Food, Crisis, and The Human Spirit

food_crisis

FOOD = “to tend, keep, pasture, to protect, to guard, to feed”

CRISIS = “to separate, decide, judge, discriminate, distinguish, to sift”

SPIRIT = “animating or vital principle, soul, courage, vigor, breath”

It’s estimated that one billion people on the earth are starving and many are farmers. Farmers starving? How in the hell…

Take a typical independent farmer, let them do what they know how to do—use their human spirit to relate to the good earth—and they’re the best fed people on the planet. The crisis—what we need to separate out and make decisions about—is caused by not letting them do what they know how to do—letting multinational corporations that specialize in industrial agriculture supplant their efforts—provide food that’s of less nutritional value but is much cheaper than what the farmer can raise on their own. Also make sure that various multinationals control the seeds the farmer can get their hands on, making sure the seeds can only be used for one crop then have to be bought again—see Monsanto: Seed Police, The Bad Seed, and Harvest of Fear. The farmer can’t afford to buy new seed and they risk legal entanglement if they reuse the seed. And, if they try to use their own non-genetically-modified seed they’re pressured so much they can’t sell their healthy food and they can’t even grow it to feed themselves. If you doubt that a small town or village farmer can be pressured into not growing food from healthy seed just think about those multinationals and all the money they have. Do you think they mind paying some of those farmers to spy on other farmers?

So, the farmers are starving unless they buckle-under to the pressure from agri-business that seems to not use the human spirit in their mix of business factors. Then, the people who used to eat the healthy food the farmers grew have to settle for genetically-modified and less nutritious food—if  the farmer used the “approved” seed or if  the particular government lets food aid (also less than wholly nutritious) actually arrive at their table (if they even have a table…).

If you’ve gotten this far in the post and you’re starting to get bored about the one billion fellow human beings who are being starved by corporate greed, I suggest you review your commitment to the basics of the human spirit—love, harmony, sympathy, service, and compassion—as well as catching up on the concept of the Oneness of Humanity—the fact that what hurts one, hurts all… sooner or later…

Thankfully, there are some companies that do all in their power to resist the pressure from the spiritless corporations, grow fully nutritious food, and not only make it available to affluent people but install procedures that implement microfranchising so the poor can benefit as well. Check out Nuriche as one example.

Then, there are organizations like Yes!  that do everything in their power to help us all  build a more sustainable world.

Look into their special Spring 2009 theme: Food for Everyone: How to Grow A Local Food Revolution. Plenty of advice that ordinary people can use to make a major contribution to the global food crisis.

So…

FOOD = something we all need in a form that supplies us with the nutrition we must have to function effectively.

CRISIS = a time to make decisions, separate out the truth from the propaganda, and make a personal judgement to take some kind of positive action.

SPIRIT = what we all have and some  need to dust off and shine up so our human family can get back on its feet and live in peace and tranquility…

Spiritual Quote:

“A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice.”
Bahá’í International Community: 1993 Feb 12 Human Rights and Extreme Poverty

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The Crisis of Faith

Things seem so gruesomely glum—so downright dour—so freakishly forbidding . . . Yet, there is Potent Hope. If you can accept it . . .

From the Washington Post: Credit Crisis Triggers Unprecedented U.S. Response
From China View: Former UN chief expresses concern over global food, fuel crisis in Ghana
From the New York Times: 1,500 Reported Killed in Georgia Battle
From the Boston Globe: Early retirement plans can be short-circuited by a crisis of one kind or another
From the Irish Times: Testimonies of atomic terror: lest we forget
From Nehanda Radio: Thousands face starvation as food crisis deepens in rural Zimbabwe

Pretty bad, eh? Probably gonna get worse…

I’m not being morose or sullen; not even pessimistic. I’m making a strong point.

What can extricate our Family from the multitude of crises assailing it?

Where is hope?

It sure isn’t in the things that have been tried for many years—the failed strategies, the materialistic grand-schemes, the corporate “solutions”, the political fantasies.

Something related to God, then?

“Oh, my, there he goes again. Poor Alex is flying in his nirvana of spirituality.”

Valid point. Just look at all the fine people, deeply spiritual, who’ve been slaughtered by the present system of managing human affairs.

Still, is dying for a cause proof that the cause isn’t valid? Is the apparent power of the politicians, corporations, and greedy-onslaughts-abounding any proof that a spiritual solution is not the best way to face such a sorry Mess?

Try this quote on for size:

“It behoveth everyone to traverse this brief span of life with sincerity and fairness. Should one fail to attain unto the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, let him at least conduct himself with reason and justice. Erelong these outward trappings, these visible treasures, these earthly vanities, these arrayed armies, these adorned vestures, these proud and overweening souls, all shall pass into the confines of the grave, as though into that box. In the eyes of those possessed of insight, all this conflict, contention and vainglory hath ever been, and will ever be, like unto the play and pastimes of children. Take heed, and be not of them that see and yet deny.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, 3.17

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How Do You Feed A Whole World ?


Quite often, the global drama strikes me as a group of children fighting over who gets to go first. Actually, I’ve been feeling a bit adolescent lately so it’s not much of a stretch to see the world’s leaders as misbehaving children.

From the International Herald Tribune: Negotiators acknowledge World Trade Organization process needs to change

From the New York Times: After 7 Years, Talks Collapse on World Trade

From the New York Times/World Business: China’s Shift on Food Was Key to Trade Impasse

From Reuters: EU points at U.S. for WTO collapse

From The WIP: How to Solve the Food Crisis: Cut trade barriers and start a Green Revolution in Africa, says Jeffrey Sachs
“The only silver lining in this (crisis) is – I even hate the idea of using that – is that it has made more people aware of the things that can be done, like the green revolution. I am not a believer in waiting for crises to get things done. I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous part of our character, but when we do have the crisis, at least it’s true that there is more discussion about agriculture the last months than there was in eight years!”

Hundreds of people, seemingly knowledgable in their field, sit down over a seven-year period and can’t come to an agreement; even though people are starving, and banks are tottering, and simple, sincere people (the world over) are losing hope . . .

What’s missing?

One thing that needs to be adjusted in the equation is to strike out the terms referring to Third World. Far as I can figure out, we have one world.

Next, terms need to be incorporated so the job of production becomes integrated globally—not the “us”/”them” situation we have. This will free enormous creative resources for solving our other crises.

“Economic development strategies employed by the United Nations, the World Bank and a number of governments during the last fifty years, however sincerely conceived and executed, have fallen far short of aspirations. In much of the world, the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has widened and is accelerating with the persistent disparity in income levels. Social problems have not subsided. In fact, crime and disease are not just on the rise; they are also becoming endemic and more difficult to combat.

“These failures can be traced to a number of factors. They include a misplaced focus on large-scale projects and bureaucratic over-centralization, unjust terms of international trade, a pervasive corruption that has been allowed to flourish throughout the system, the exclusion of women from the decision-making processes at all levels, a general inability to ensure that resources reach the poor, and the diversion of development resources into military hardware.

“A dispassionate examination of these factors betrays a common systematic and fundamental flaw in the current paradigm for economic development: material needs are often addressed without taking into account the spiritual factors and their motivating power….

“Because of the spiritually damaging nature of dependency, schemes which focus solely on redistributing material wealth are doomed to failure in the long run. Distribution of wealth must be approached in an efficient and equitable manner. In fact, it must be intimately integrated with the process of wealth creation.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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Our Ruined Earth

My focus today is what’s wrong in Our Family’s Home . . .

From the Environment Section of AlterNet:

Why Our Food Waste May Be Our Greatest Asset
Composting is key to reducing waste costs, cutting global warming emissions, and increasing urban food security.

Time to Face the Hard Realities of a Global Energy Crisis
America needs a comprehensive plan to deal with post-peak oil — and that is going to involve some serious long-term thinking.

Get Ready for the Post-SUV World!
SUVs and big pickups are waddling off into the sunset, leaving Americans with no more excuses for the nation’s profligate oil use.

Global Warming’s Twin Evil: Wildfires and Drought
The 850 fires burning in California alone should be a wake up call that we’re unprepared for rapid climate change.

All this and much more on AlterNet’s Site . . .

And, absorb this wonderful, educational, and surprising video: “Solving” climate change from David Keith.

What’s driven our Family to this Crisis?

What can we actually do?

How much of the Crisis is manageable?

What needs to occur in political circles to make change actually happen?

Why in the world, considering that the environmental problem was already a concern in the 1950’s, have we let it get this bad?

Will prayer help?

Will war help? ( That’s a trick question. Just seeing if you’re paying attention… 😉 )

What in the World can We DO !?!

I’d Love to see your thoughts and feelings in the comments . . .

Today’s quote is from ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Statement to the first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED):

“The principle of the unity of mankind naturally implies the need for world peace and security. The World Commission on Environment and Development observed in its report that world peace and security are central to sustainable development. The Bahá’í International Community agrees that as long as the specter of war continues to dominate international relations, the well-being of the human race and the environment will continue to erode. It is the Bahá’í view that the root cause of all war and injustice is the failure to recognize the fundamental oneness of the human race. Acceptance of the principle of oneness will induce the willingness to uncover and permanently resolve all other causes for conflict. Indeed, it must be the foundation for any serious attempt to find ways of living in harmony with our environment and each other.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1990 Aug 06, Environment Development

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World Food Crisis

Google search:


Enews 2.0
Food prices are global challenge, says UN
RTE.ie, Ireland – 3 hours ago
hit by the crisis, and will double lending for agriculture in Africa over the next year to €515m. Rising food prices have hurt the growing mass of urban
UN and World Bank say to tackle food crisis Reuters
UN, World Bank to Coordinate Task Force Efforts in Food Crisis Deutsche Welle
UN chief orders task force to tackle food crisis AFP
BloombergXinhua
all 487 news articles »

Turkish Press
IMF concerned about food crisis in Africa
AFP – 1 hour ago
“We are concerned about it because higher food prices (and) higher oil prices mean higher import bills, and it can slow down economic growth,” the head of
IMF bid to help Africans on inflation Daily Times
all 35 news articles »
Region’s aid groups grappling with global food crisis
Seattle Times, United States – 7 hours ago
But only in the last few weeks have staffers, and much of the world, realized all the incidents were responses to a worldwide leap in food prices — and part
As Food Prices Soar, Mercy Corps Establishes Global Food Crisis Fund Reuters AlertNet
Mercy Corps creates fund to ease food crisis The Oregonian – OregonLive.com
Global Food Crisis Spurs Mercy Corps Action KOIN.com
PR Newswire (press release)
all 26 news articles »

Washington Post
Global Food Prices and Africa’s Economic Famine
Washington Post, United States – Apr 28, 2008
We’re talking about the Post’s Global Food Crisis series this morning. This is an important subject. I’ll answer your questions as best I can. So fire away.
Food crisis translates to economic crisis United Press International
Where Every Meal Is a Sacrifice Washington Post
all 6 news articles »

DigitalJournal.com
“US, EU responsible for explosive food prices
Hindu, India – 9 hours ago
Jean Ziegler held fuel policies pursued by the US and the EU to be main causes for the current worldwide food crisis. Last year the US ‘Video: UN rapporteur talks about the global food crisis – 28 Apr 08’));Video: UN rapporteur talks about the global food crisis – 28 Apr 08UN Special Rapporteur Says Biofuel Production Criminal DigitalJournal.com
all 18 news articles »

Javno.hr
WTO deal seen having little impact on food prices
Daily Times, Pakistan – 15 hours ago
Some may conclude the message of the current crisis is they can no longer depend on imports and must improve food security by raising barriers to protect
Food crisis sparks role reversal in WTO AFP
(UPDATE) UN meets on food crisis Inquirer.net
all 22 news articles »

AFP
UN meets on food crisis
AFP – 20 hours agoFilter
“Responding effectively to the impact of higher food prices must be a top priority for the global community,” he said. But he criticised protectionist

Boston Globe
Economic Stresses, Biofuel Production Add to Food Crisis Pressures
Voice of America – 23 hours ago
By Mil Arcega The World Food Program warns that rising food prices could turn into a global crisis unless the world acts quickly. The UN food agency has
No Free Lunch Food, fuel and finance Inquirer.net
all 4 news articles »
Cabinet to face looming crisis in food prices
The Herald Eastern Cape, South Africa – 7 hours ago
As far back as February, the NAMC warned that rising food prices were a threat to the country’s household food security, and food inflation was a major
SA warned over food security Citizen
all 2 news articles »

Voice of America
UN Announces Food Crisis Task Force
Voice of America – 28 minutes agoFilter
By VOA News United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will head a task force to deal with the unprecedented rise in global food prices.

Daily Star – Lebanon
No simple cause – or easy cure – for rising food prices
Daily Star – Lebanon, Lebanon – 18 hours agoFilter
This example contradicts the wave of accusations that biofuel production is to blame for sparking the food price crisis.

Vancouver Sun
Fidel Castro warned of food crisis a year ago
Reuters South Africa, South Africa – 20 hours ago
Violent protests ignited by rising food prices toppled Haiti’s government earlier this month. Increased demand from rapidly developing nations led by China,
Finding the right shade of green Ottawa Citizen
all 19 news articles »