Diary of an Impatient Mind

Sunday, November 27, 2016.

In my hometown in Northern Germany: bird flue outbreak this week forced the first farm to kill 19.000 turkeys. If its two neighbor farms are affected (not clear yet), more than 90.000 animals must be killed. (http://www.zeit.de/wissen/gesundheit/2016-11/gefluegelpest-cloppenburg-putenmastbetrieb-vogelgrippe-h5n8)

gefluegelpest, cloppenburg © Focke Strangmann/dpa

Checking some older emails, from the beginning of November: FDA has found 10 times the concentration of glyphosate in US honey bees compared to the threshold set in the EU. Yet. Monsanto – who uses glyphosate in its ‘Roundup’ herbicide, told us for some decades that GMO will reduce the use of herbicides, not increase it.  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/more-bad-news-for-honey-a_b_12769698.html)

And of course, every day in my thoughts: Standing Rock. We allow big oil companies to build yet another huge pipeline that not only puts the Missouri River water in North Dakota at risk – it also continues business as ‘it always was’. Which means: exploitation of soil, natural resources, and complete reification of animals for food production.

No – this has not always been our way of life. And if we are worried about job losses to automation in rural America – and yes, we should be concerned about this because the ‘old’ jobs will not return – why do we not begin NOW to imagine a way out.

Is it really unimaginable to switch to smaller farming again? Is it unimaginable to rebuild local communities not only around churches but also around newly envisioned farms and community centers as spaces to create hope in the future? What if small towns re-built their own farmers’ markets, even some tourist business on sustainable farms? Libraries, even if it started with the libraries-on-the-go? Why not think of getting back to really small business – but smart, sustainable, creative? If they needed some subsidies – or micro-credits that have worked well in any country facing the same problem as rural America – why don’t we, in the bigger cities, not work together with these communities?

Can we not start outreach programs? There is so much of what I call ‘experiential knowledge’ that we can all learn from. I don’t think we can wait for big business to create this narrative. And no: I am not just a Green, a Romantic, a Yesterdayer – although I am proud to be all that with respect to how we relate to our environment. I am looking at report after report on environmental disasters. I am looking at economic gains (they don’t reach those who would need some more bucks in their pockets). In the US, there are 358 mega-rich families. 20 families own 50% of all US wealth. They use their wealth for gaining political power. Lauren Langman calls this a plutocracy. So – these guys won’t tell us to go back to smaller units. They are not interested in community-building. They probably consider the human, animal, plant, and natural resources loss through accidents a collateral damage. In my hometown, however, some of the farmers may lose everything they have relied upon.

In North Dakota, one accident will destroy the water supply for the Native American Nation living there for decades. Not to speak of the wildlife etc.
In Iowa, Sioux Honey Association Cooperation is sued because they advertise their honey as 100% pure – which they cannot guarantee, now that the FDA found glyphosate in their honey.
And here is my big BUT of the day:

Community re-building must resist returning to the cultural values of the past. This is where white Christianity enters the room: No – we do not want to return to the white patriarchal family. We have lived through its violence, both personally, physically and emotionally, and structurally.

But unless we have an alternative that creates real hope, liberation, and a future that is worth fighting for, we will not win the fight on cultural values. 

Christian values are about de-centering power structures and re-centering them around justice for all. Liberation. Metanoia or transformation to an always possible new beginning. Transforming violence into peace. Standing with the anawim, the outcasts of society. Building something new, a society in which those who are poor are blessed, those who fight for justice are blessed.

As a Christian, I know where to go and where to look: first and foremost, I have multiple biblical narratives – experiences with power, experiences and narratives of strengths and weaknesses, of collaboration and resistance, of errors and ever-new beginnings. I have the story of Jesus Christ.

I have the tradition of prophets. I have my Catholic tradition of subversives of their societies, those who spoke up to those in power, to violence, to murder, to oligarchy (not everyone, but many of these bravest men and women were later  called the Saints of the Catholic Church- such as Oscar Romero). I have the civil rights and human rights defenders such as Martin Luther King. I have Dorothy Day and Dorothee Soelle. I have thousands and thousands of individuals who came before us. Who stood up, and who created something new. This is my tradition, this is the Christian tradition, a counter-tradition worth fighting for.

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