Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Glimmer of Hope

My next post will (hopefully) be about our trip down to Key West last night to celebrate with Help Yourself as they continue their efforts to expand with an organic market and smoothie/juice bar into the space next door to their current restaurant.  I took some pictures, which I'd like to use with the post, so I'm not going into much detail until I transfer the photos from my camera.  We recently got a new computer here, and I'm still learning how to do things; downloading photos is something I still have no idea how to do.

While in Key West last night, we were surrounded by dozens of like-minded people.  It was so uplifting, so invigorating, so much needed.  We met human rights activists, animal rights activists, vegetarians, vegans, people currently in transition to going veg, community activists, mothers, fathers, business owners, tourists, several dogs, and a few people just passing through Key West as they figure out where in life they belong. All this diversity evolved into a very warm and thoughtful event.

I had a few conversations throughout the evening with some people who have ideas and thoughts which dare I say some might consider radical. The thing is, to me their thoughts and ideas were not radical at all because there was too much truth in the words they spoke.  This free speaking, free thinking crowd got me to refocus myself on how to best help people learn to transition to a plant based diet, and help people to feel free enough to question authority, stop being spoon fed, so to speak, by corporations & government, stop just accepting things as they are now.

When I was a little girl, both of my parents smoked. I think I've touched on this in several of my prior posts.  Growing up in the 60s and 70s, smoking was very much accepted.  Maybe some of you reading this won't remember the days back when air travel actually had smoking allowed.  Unbelievably, the way things used to roll was that some rows were declared "ok" for smoking, some rows not.  The entire plane of course would end up in a cloud of smoke, there were no partitions, no special ventilation that I recall.  It was awful.  Trips with my parents even in the car were often ordeals for me, I remember sitting in the back seat of their cars very often begging them to put out their cigarettes.  My mom especially would become annoyed, and crack a window.  But the smoke somehow seemed to go out that teeny crack and wash back in via my cracked window, making things even worse.  My parents were not bad people, not by far.  In fact, they are among the short list of my heroes.  They became addicted to smoking, and back then smoking was socially acceptable. Decades ago when my parents first became addicted, things were such that smoking was promoted as a healthy thing to do.  The huge tobacco industry lobbied our government (as they still do I'm sure). Truth was buried, hidden, repressed, and covered up. Through the tireless work of activists and educators, truth was eventually revealed.  Smoking is bad for us; it kills us and pollutes the planet. Animals die from ingesting filters, waters are polluted from byproducts, and products themselves, and all sorts of other ills occur from smoking.

Do you wonder why I am talking about smoking?  Well, wonder no more.

What is going on right now in the food industry seems to me to closely parallel days of past with smoking.  People collude to cover up information, huge corporations are lobbying government with massive payoffs and spin doctoring, government subsidizes certain crops but not others, and generally speaking massive amounts of time, money and effort are spent making sure we the public are spoon fed very carefully crafted spun statistics AND foodstuffs.  Meanwhile, there is a small (but growing) voice out in the public working tirelessly to get the truth told.  These voices are educators and activists who are working tirelessly to expose cruelties, end abuse, and pursue truth and justice. I'm sure sometimes they feel as if they're spitting in the wind.  I'm so sure of it because I know that's exactly how I feel sometimes.  But, change IS coming.  I know this because of the group of people I was around last  night.  Even maybe 5 years ago I wouldn't  imagine a co-mingling such as I saw last night.  Doctors, drifters, educators, homemakers, parents, students, on and on.  No one shouted down anyone else if there were disagreeing thoughts (wish our political leaders and want-to-be political leaders would do the same), no one disrespected any one else.  And, while many people spoke of studies, books, medical journals and other articles that are pouring forth thanks to the advent of the internet and social media, many others nodded their heads and spoke of reading the same journals, articles, studies and books.  I think its fair to say that it's a lot harder to cover things up now than it may have been in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and even the 80s.  

The truth is coming out. Just as smoking was taught to so many that it was good for us when it wasn't, current accepted eating habits are also not.  People may hide behind arguments like "this is the way it has always been done," "this is my personal choice," and "you have no right to tell me what to do," but I've got something to say back to any haters.  Just because something was "always done" a certain way doesn't make it right.  Humankind has been given the ability to think and reason, and we need to evolve as knowledge is acquired.  Saying something is a "personal choice" seems a legitimate argument at face value, but truth be told, your personal choice is effecting me, my planet, and the future of all beings who will inhabit this same planet long after we are gone.  The impact of our personal choices will resonate for a long time after we are gone.  And, also, while I may have no right to tell you what to do, as this is America, I do have a right to demand truth; a right to expect that our government and its leaders are not morally bankrupt allowing themselves to be swayed by corporations and huge gobs of money lining their pockets while covering up what we all are entitled to know, read, hear and see. I look to the current media blitz about Paula Deen as a good example. She may be quite a wonderful, funny, sweet, talented lady. But, she's all that now with diabetes to boot. It seems that to some extent there was too much at risk (perhaps at risk was a small empire built on food that can be the trigger for so many ills.... like diabetes?) for her to come forward 3 years ago when first diagnosed. Now the truth is out as she endorses a drug, instead of a healthier lifestyle. She has a right to handle things as she desires, however as a public figure, she should expect scrutiny as well.

When I hear others speak, or read what other people write, I marvel at their ability to be such clear, concise and eloquent communicators.  I do not have that gift to the extent I would hope for.  Despite my many admitted shortcomings, I own the fact that I was indoctrinated into a system like millions of others which causes harm and damage.  Despite this, I also am willing to seek out information and learn how to evolve into a more productive person, an advocate for people, animals and planet, no matter how difficult some of the information is to see, hear or read; no matter how hard the road may seem to facilitate changes in ourselves, sometimes the stakes are just too high and we MUST take that hard road.

I believe there is very little personal choice anymore. Our collective actions are leading us down a path of no choice.  While millions of people starve every day, our seas are over fished.  The aberrant way food is grown is destroying our planet and the food itself; our water supply is growing smaller, our air quality is failing as well, and our food choices are having such significant global impact that its quite possible the only way for our planet to survive is that at some point there will be some type of plague or massive die off that will essentially be a cleansing for the planet itself.  This actually is terrifying for me.

Despite often feeling confused, scared, sad, and full of rage, I get up every day with hope that I will reach someone new, that its not "too late" for the future that will come long after I am gone.  Everything I do, everything I learn isn't really for me anymore.  Its about passing on to the next generations; paying it forward. There's a growing voice out there crusading for truth, talking about responsible choices and compassion, and working to stamp out ignorance.

Indeed, we must look ahead and remember the long journey begins with the first step.

Thanks for checking in today.  Check in tomorrow for those great photos I promise!

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