Friday, January 31, 2014

To a fighter for safe healthy food

At times we all can feel hopeless and powerless in the face of the size, power, ruthlessness and pure evil of the corporations, of how hard it is to win little victories, how fast new threats emerge, and the illusion of a blind and apathetic public reflected back to us by the corporate media.  

People who care about and struggle over other issues are having the same experience.  Some despair, give up or grow numb out of exhaustion. 

Environmental justice, anti "tracking", global warming, workplace health and safety, nuclear power, animal rights, little victories are won.  Bank and mortgage fraud, globalization and secret trade deals, drives to privatize everything from schools to water supplies and prisons, banks financing criminal cartels and massively rigging interest rates and every market with impunity, all have come to light because they are someone's battle. But to really win/ each needs to be everyone's battle, which seems impossible.

Voting rights and voter suppression, Citizen's United and corporate personhood, big money control over every institution of government, fraudulent government statistics and media lies and censorship, the fight for the open Internet, massive government spying, a phony war on terror, militarization of local police, torture and rendition, each of these issues has come to light because thousands are engaged in them.  Victories are won, yet new outrages keep popping up while public attention flitters on to the next thing.  

Ending the wars, closing the bases, caring for the veterans, bringing the troops home, stopping the torture, rendition and executions by drone;  job creation, infrastructure, homelessness, hunger, workplace justice, the right to organize, parents' rights, welfare rights, ex-prisoners rights; each is critical to the thouands who are fighting them.  

An epidemic of discrimination is totally out of control, whole new classes of people are no longer considered for jobs,  Millions, gripped by fear of being destroyed by some employer-alert list, swallow their bile and try to "keep their noses clean." 

This same fractal-like pattern appears on almost any smaller scale - battles over the privatization of parking meters, the breakdown of a state Food Stamp system, the stealth passage of some outrageous state law overturning a just court ruling, or countless personal injustices  - new battles just keep popping up.  We feel isolated in the face of armies of cynical "suits", too overwhelmed to support each other's fights.

Meanwhile flocks of corporate-funded politicians, pundits and shock-jocks orchestrate campaigns of division, hate and self-blame, drawing on all our fears, myths and confusion, setting up and promoting phony protest movements and false leaders, Judas goats and Pied Pipers, playing on our shame,  twisting our anger back against each other and against ourselves, scapegoating, channeling and fanning our outrage, stirring up false hope and wasting our energy on dead ends.  

Consider the Million Veteran March on Washington.  Maybe two hundred Tea-Party veterans plus Sarah and Michelle got wall-to-wall press coverage for defying the barricades at the War Memorial, while the leaders of 30 national veterans groups and thousands of veterans who converged on Washington the following week to protest the very real cuts in benefits got virtually none.  

The fight for safe, wholesome food is deeply connected to all these other battles. One people fighting for our homes, our families, our very lives in thousands of battles on hundreds of fronts confronting one hydra-headed shape-shifting foe and its doctrine of unrestrained greed.  1000 streams flowing toward one ocean.  

The story of our food has rippled outward.  The seemingly-docile satisfied masses shuffling their full baskets through the checkout line know far more than you think.  Exhausted, barraged with conflicting information and misinformation, living paycheck to paycheck, yet all know something's very wrong.   Obesity, deformities, chronic illness, disability and early death surround us.  All have horror stories of bad medical care.  And all suspect the food.

Our stories - of all our struggles and what we've learned in them - are permeating outward.  Few know all the pieces but everyone knows some.  Some incident will draw us together in outrage, the way the Crash and Bank Bailout did.  Some turn of events will sweep aside all the distractions and focuses our minds on the common source of our afflictions.

In that moment, we will shed the last illusion: that the problem is "all those other stupid people" out there, sitting on their couches stuffing their faces with Devil Dogs, consuming and believing all the happy lies.  

Occupy was starting to draw us all together into one great invincible force, but it wasn't quite there yet.

Or rather, it was we, the American people, who weren't quite there yet.

We've learned a lot since then, and there will be a next time.  


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