When I was a little girl my mother used to play Neil Diamond records, and one song that has remained stuck in my head all these years is "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.”
It came to mind when I received an email about anti-GMO crusader Jeffrey Smith's Hawaii tour later this week, which comes on the heels of a similar circuit taken by anti-atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes, who is speaking tomorrow night on Kauai.
On the poster, Smith is described as “one of the most saught [sic] after, internationally recognized voices of GMO Truth.” One of his Maui talks is pitched as “an event of truth and facts,” while the other is described as “A Day of GMO Truth.” Curiously, no such claim is made for his Kauai appearance, which is listed simply as a “GMO community talk.”
And I thought, how can you possibly pretend you are serving up truth when you are presenting just one point of view? Which is when I was again reminded of how the anti-GMO movement has assumed all the self-righteous, one-way, one-truth fervor of the evangelicals — replete with swooning. I'll never forget the 2491 testimony of the lady who said she ate a GMO papaya “and fainted dead away.”
So it is clear now that in Hawaii, we will not be able to have a reasonable public discussion on this issue. We will not be able to publicly debate different sets of facts, varying versions of the truth.
In the current socio-political milieu, you're either a true believer, or a heretic, with absolutely no middle ground allowed.
Meanwhile, real life continues in its many, often contradictory, shades of gray. Parking for Hayes' UH-Hilo talk was disrupted due to construction of a chemical storage building on campus. Dow, denounced as a demonic defiler, made the pesticide Vikane that was used this past week to treat a Singapore ant infestation on the Hokulea.
Billionaire Pierre Omidyar is blasted for bankrolling a dairy on Kauai, a project deemed unsustainable because the cows won't eat organic feed and the milk will be shipped to Oahu for processing. Billionaire Larry Ellis is lauded for using Lanai's scarce water to grow organic veggies that will be shipped to China and Japan.
Always, we are grouping into good-bad, right-wrong, us-them.
Which brings me to a blog post well-written by Luke Evslin, who has one of the more interesting minds on this island, largely because he actually uses it to think, instead of parrot or echo or regurgitate or deny. He wrote:
Since we can witness and measure an obvious environmental decline, then it only makes sense that the culprit is the way we currently run society. That's our enemy.
There's only one problem; that's us. We embody the status-quo everytime we get into our car. Everytime we ingest food that comes from a grocery store. Everytime we put on a t-shirt. Everytime we cast a vote for either a democrat or a republican. But what else can we do?
We all can see it. We all complain about it. We all want to do something about it. But that's as far as we can go. We've failed at even approaching a solution because we are the problem. We can't look to the Civil Rights movement and sit at a lunch counter in Birmingham or look to the Indian Nationalist movement and go on a hunger strike in a British prison. The two most successful social movements of the last century had tangible enemies. And non-violent resistance worked because of that. As we perpetuate the greatest environmental crime (climate change) in history, we are our own enemy. And there's nothing that we can do to divest ourselves.
So, back to my struggling question of last week, what now? How do we envision a different future? How do we change the system?
I certainly don't have all the answers, or maybe even any, but I think one place to start is to stop taking refuge in the “me good, you bad" bang-and blame duality mindset. All of us are the problem, and all of us can play a role in the solution.
Luke writes, correctly and coherently:
Our failure isn't caused by incessant growth or a reliance on technology. We are failing because capitalism can not adequately value the environment. There is an intrinsic worth to nature which can not be quantified.
Luisa Kolker, a shamanic healer I interviewed yesterday, added another piece:
We need to find ways to re-attune with our own inner wilderness.We've lost the empathic connection with ourselves, and with the Earth. Until we are in good relationship with ourselves, we will defile and violate nature.
Meanwhile, as astrologer Stephanie Azaria points out, there is a powerful metaphor currently at work as scientists uncover the ancient remains of the largest known animal to walk on Earth, a creature that was 65 feet high — equal to a seven-story building — and 130 feet long:
We all know what a dinosaur is, in esoteric talk. For those of you who don’t know, a dinosaur is a consciousness that is infused with the old, outdated way of being. The dictionary describes it this way: a person or thing that is outdated or has become obsolete because of failure to adapt to changing circumstances.
Dinosaurs, like the ruined remnants of fallen civilizations, remind us anew that we aren't too big to fail.
The choice is ours: work together to figure out how we can adapt ourselves and our civilization to fit the natural ecological constraints of this planet, or continue to pursue the dinosaur mindset of separation and polarization, cloaked in the false belief that some one of has a lock on “The Truth.”