I Read the News Today

, March 24, 2015 in Reflective Essays

Recently, I have read several articles in the newspapers that have stirred me up. Like any good Canadian citizen, who feels outraged to the point of taking action, I wrote a letter to the editor. Time has passed, my letters were not printed and fortunately, I can take the next step and write a letter from the editor.

The first was this obsequious article listing the top CEOs of Canada, ranking them by total income and highest single paycheck. The feckless author breathlessly praised these corporate leaders for their “daring downsizing” (sheer number of people they could fire and claim savings) and their expert “handling of takeovers” (how much they got for selling off the company they were supposed to be running.) The sycophantic author continued his toady praise of how these few people could manage other peoples money and sequester so much for themselves in the doing of their jobs.

The next piece was an icy analysis of the failure of Indian rice farmers using Monsanto gmo rice, fertilizers and herbicides. The article spells out how the foolish farmers did not have the financial savvy to prepare for bad times. Because their rice was a “terminator” type the farmers could not save and plant their own seed but must buy fresh seed each year. The seed is “activated” by the herbicide that keeps the fields clear so it too must be purchased each year. Initial large harvests promised riches until the market was glutted and the price went down. The costs continued to climb and many farmers sick from the chemicals of their farms and broke by their inability to sell their crops began committing suicide in unprecedented numbers. Juxtaposed to this article was a short column on the organic rice farmers in India who are steadily producing modest crop sizes in all weather conditions but could never make the farmers rich because organic farming was labour intensive and often co-operatively run. The food and wealth had to be shared by so many families that the rewards were only being well fed, modest income and work for the rest of your natural life. So you see, even organic farming has its drawbacks.

The following week an author made a startling realization about Native Canadians but could not apply his concepts to himself or the rest of Canada. A number of years ago in Manitoba the moose population was over hunted and some Native groups, whose lifestyles were intimately connected to moose, seriously suffered. The men no longer hunting stayed home. The women no longer cured the meat nor tanned the hides. The young men did not go out to learn their life skills so wandered about. Soon drinking, fighting and diabetes was taking its toll with the natives. Out east in Quebec peoples living on a river that became the toilet of industrial waste upstream became sick from the fish, their main staple. Without fishing the men traveled far for employment. Also, they began bringing home foods from supermarkets especially prepared foods. Soon they too were overcome in social strife and diabetes. Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent by commissions to ascertain why Natives have such a diabetes problem. The author of the article noted some of the more cogent commentary of the Native leaders.

The leaders were concerned that the commissions were only measuring physical sickness and saw too small of a picture. The Native leaders pointed out that there were so many drums in a village but no one drumming. They explained that values, religion and spirituality were inseparable. They explained their concept of the wheel of life and the interconnectedness of all levels of life. In the end, the moose population returned and all the social structures also returned to a balanced and harmonious state and lo, and behold, the diabetes abated. The Quebec Natives, who moved to clean waters and a fishing economy, also saw health improvements. If the government had spent a fraction of the millions of dollars in studies on cleaning up the river and industry the whole of the society would have improved.

It is clear in the business articles that the authors’ horizon line was the tip of their noses or their bosses’ bottoms. How anyone can so slavishly believe in corporate values whilst human beings are dying from starvation, strife, war, pollution and loneliness? How can we praise someone for parasitical behaviour? Why can’t people see or feel the interconnectedness of life? Our Native brothers and sisters by their connections to the land can still demonstrate how a physical disease is connected to the integration of the social structures with the needs of the people on all levels of life. We must also be integrated with our environment and our food sources. Most of us would accept a connection between certain psychological conditions in individuals that would cause the breakdown of social order but would we see the breakdown of social order as the cause of heart disease or cancer? Is our very disconnected state, our isolation from the collective consciousness of society and nature the cause of our sickness? We must begin to conceptualize in new ways. The thought processes that brought us our problems can not be used to solve them. We can not return to the “Golden Age” of old but must create a new Golden Age.