If one group of citizens should be denied the right to participate in U.S. citizenship, it would not be those failing to own property as was the rule initially under the Constitution or those unable to pass a literacy test or pay a poll tax. It would be those who leap to preferred or prejudiced conclusions before they have asked all the necessary questions they should have asked and could have asked. This is because basic intellectual, investigational, and analytical discipline is more essential to functional democracy than the election of Presidents and the members of the Congress or the appointment of judges. Sadly, some of them have now been found to be among the worst offenders, and a high, shameful, unconscionable public price is paid for that. They should be setting the best example, but instead they have set the worst.
Oratorical and verbal skill is only of secondarily valuable in permitting people to serve in elected or appointed public office. Reason is more important than persuasive ability because persuasion is useless if it is supported by sophistry and even worse when it is sustained by imperious prejudice and clever artifice. This is the fault found with Patrick Henry by Thomas Jefferson and others. He was found to be all mouth with no head nor heart. Perhaps too many others in the modern era have followed in that same headless, heartless pattern.
In a travesty of anti-democratic example, these subversions enable the crafty to impose tyranny without independent, objective argument in pursuit of the truth being permitted. Despite the health and environmental impacts of Monsanto’s technology, the informed consent of the people has been denied, and the needs of the people have not been met when the opportunity to seek the truth has been forestalled by those who do not want to know it.
Millions of years were required to create an instinctively moral animal, so all that effort should not be trashed by people who feel empowered and entitled by their money and position to do whatever they want. They should not be free to facilitate the continued money flow at the expense of the ill-informed and abused citizens denied access to the truth.
Citizenship education should be essential in enabling people to escape these subversions and blow the whistle on them, but the political establishment and their subservient judges have demonstrated a preference for docile, passive, and easily controlled, deferential citizens, so that is what the nation has tried to create, and maybe Monsanto’s project is part of that effort if the health symptoms resulting from it are intentional and diligently pursued. This is what moral practice has become under the amoral corporate model that even universities increasingly follow as they want to manage themselves more like companies.
As part of the dominant model, education to get a job has become more important than education to create moral citizenship ability even though that should be more important than education to get a job if we want to be able to run a government that works for the benefit of the people. Before long, a job will not matter if the government cannot be made to work to serve the people and protect the Commons in the international collective interest.
Beyond that, democratic citizenship participation is not so much a right as a responsibility, and to the extent it is a right, responsibilities go with it. Without a diligent, humble, and committed sense of collective responsibility from citizens, officials, and judges, the right may be merely licentious or a pursuit of largess at the expense of other people. Democracy is not about the freedom to do anything profitable for personal gain, and that is the conflict it bas with Capitalism. It is about more important freedoms than that. When everything is about money, the democratic ideal is turned into a tragedy and a bad joke on its believers.
In the United States, governance often has seemed to involve little more than jockeying to determine which group should be allowed to deliver themselves largess at the public trough. Personal take is more important than public service, and that has put the past national ideal in a ditch. Now the pursuit of government-sponsored corporate socialism (this word is not chosen lightly) accrues to the benefit of the elite, and far more resources go to that than go toward anything with socialized benefit for the people. That is the reason why many people feel entitled to the benefits they get. For example, when the wages at McDonalds are so low the workers need food stamps to help them survive, that is a taxpayer subsidy to McDonalds.
The same kind of subsidy operates on behalf of the employees at Wal-mart, but the Walton family has used the system they have created to gain as much wealth as 42% of the nation’s people at the bottom tier. They are using their system and its taxpayer subsidy to create a wealth transfer system for their own benefit, and Monsanto has done the same with farmers and consumers with the long-term welfare of both compromises for the short-term wealth of the company and their shareholders. Because of the dependency of the political system on the campaign funding companies like Monsanto generate, the nation has generated self-destructive incentives it is incapable of fixing, because there is no longer the political will.
During the New Deal, the tables were turned against the persistence of this model for a while—until the dominating power of wealth by 1953 was able to start reversing the prior two decades of effort to build economic equality in the wake of the disqualify built in the nation before 1929. The trouble was: neither group of beneficiaries of the two different policies, Democrat and Republican, has ever lived up to the need for public responsibility in the public interest of everyone and of the Commons. Both have taken their good fortune for granted as if it should be their permanent entitlement. It was the same way in the 19th century with the Robber Barons, so when the policy is reversed the same opportunism is too easily taken for granted, as if it should be the things are intended to work—permanently.
Against the modern reality of the corporate elites (and the rest of the 1% at the top) and the impoverished 10% at the bottom (needing to rely on Food Stamps to survive), the policies of the New Deal era were less destructive of the Commons than the current model of pro-corporate socialism benefiting Monsanto at public expense more than any other previously benefiting company. In the past, the Commons has been built despite the observed and conservatively-lamented appropriation of largess for the needy at the public trough. Now, in aggregate when all is tallied, more is destroyed than built, and that is because of the grabbed pro-corporate entitlement putting the public and the environment in jeopardy. Profligate corporations appropriate opportunism for themselves as the result of their political power.
Monsanto provides only one example of this behavior and the way it is accomplished; there are more (despite the efforts of many to do better in service to the public), but Monsanto is the most egregious of them all, worse than BP-Halliburton and all the oil spills combined. Because the most reprehensible set the public image of the United States before the world more than the many still trying to do better, everyone in the U.S. suffers as if they were all part of the problem and none were part of the solution. Everyone has a part to play in the way the governing system works—or fails to work even if they have not contributed equally to the creation of the problem, but it does not help when more and more people decide to become an an increasingly bigger part of the trouble. That gives ever more people a part in the U.S. tragedy, and when they choose to become part of the problem or fail to make the choice not to become part of it, they cannot become a part of the solution because their debits become greater than their contributions. That is the way it is with Monsanto; the deficits they have created against the Commons are so great, they can never be paid back.
The problem is worse now than ever in the past because powerful technology can magnify the destruction beyond the capacity of future productivity to recover, but the wealthy elites asserted an entitled right for themselves from the very beginning in 1787. They have also worked hard to reinforce their right to exercise it. By their own lights, everyone will be better off if the elite are the beneficiaries of the systemic largess—promoting presumably valuable trickle-down for everyone else. This idea migrated to President Reagan from the founding Federalists, and ideologically-justified deregulation for the profitable benefit of empowered corporations was the result, though President Carter was also an agent, for good or ill, in enabling, facilitating, and advancing the nation’s deregulatory project.
Few of the advocates of the program have wanted to think they have been given a license to destroy and to kill, but that is what they did get—and they have exercised the prerogative. As a result, most of the most recent trickle has been trickle-up from people with the least available to sacrifice. The flow of the net trickle has also been negative for the Commons, but no accounting system has been created to help people understand all the destruction. The revision of the truth-distorting system of accounting is badly needed, but who will favor it?
At present, anyone who would want to know the truth about the costs and benefits must measure the flows on their own the best they can, and that is unlikely to change until a new Constitutional Convention writes a new public accounting system into the founding provisions of a newly designed republic. This new document would need to consider a range of issues not yet of concern in 1787, but on accounting, the need would be established for measuring value flows not just among demographic groups but also between the people and the planet as well as the people and other planetary inhabitants of all sizes and kinds. The project could see the planet as an endowment, a gift, or as property belonging to the universe with anything taken from it paid back with interest. At the very least, nothing would be allowed to be taken for private use at less than its long-term scarcity value.
This is important in the case of Monsanto’s activity and the activities of its customers because the major impacts of its transgenic technology have been unseen immediately by most people and may only be understood by them during distant decades—if human life survives long enough to learn the results of what has been done. As part of the accounting, the use, damage, and destruction of all resources would be charged at the long-term value of their highest potential use, not at the short-term cost of production. Among other details, petroleum use would not be debited at its lowest fuel value as it is now. Instead, it would be charged at its higher future resource value. The trouble, of course, is that we do not yet know how to assess that value. We only know how to assess the currently understood value.
If people understood the potential future value of resources, they would not burn through them as fast as they have, and that is a failure of democracy to manifest more than myopic values. Even human resources would not be exploited as they have been if people did not think of other people as an easily sacrificed resource. If the value of people was understood according to their fully educated potential, they would be treated differently and valued differently. Instead, the preserved value is for lowest paid workers doing menial work.
A member of a county board of supervisors once said, “If we educate everyone, who is going to do the farm work and clean the houses?” This has been the mentality of too many, even if most would not be honest enough to want to state it plainly. If this was not the truth, people would be celebrated for the best they could become, and they would not have been given fluoridated water to drink, so their IQ and their functional ability would be lowered. At least, the decision makers would have wanted to know the impacts before they had to see the results, and they would have done the same about the impacts of Monsanto’s biotechnology.
If cost-benefit analysis was important, farmers would likely be among the most valuable of all human resources because they specialize in growing the most important of all resources: food—and they know how to grow other beneficial renewable resources, but those resources are not valued when non-renewable resources are cheap and undervalued. The reigning attitude about human resources is seen even in the way people have abused themselves.
When this self-abuse is seen, others feel entitled to pursue similar abuse or worse and domestic animals are abused the same way. The value flow provides a measure of this abuse, and that favors those at the top in the leading agribusiness and food merchandizing corporations. Most of the economy has been designed intentionally as a wealth transfer engine helping to make the poor poorer, the rich richer, and the middle class smaller. This is the end result of the way value is allowed to flow. The result is low wages for most people and the kind of exploitive business methods Monsanto has exemplified for its own benefit.
Even if the impacts of the Walmart model may be more visible and striking than the way the old merchandize distribution system worked or the way Monsanto operates, they show a sense of value about the distribution of wealth and the use of people and resources. Wealth is distributed the way self-entitled people think it should be or according to the way some are able to abuse others and the Commons for their own advantage and advancement.
Monsanto runs a wealth transfer engine at the expense of farmers and consumers with even greater unseen impact on the Commons than the oil companies do, but as long as they share the financial benefits with politicians, they both will likely be able to continue their project at the expense of everyone else. As we have seen, judges will assist them in keeping the insider-enriching gravy train on the rails. Other participants in the project can be named, but some can also be named who are working the best they can to make things better for everyone while minimizing the negative impact on the Commons. This is why an accounting system needs to measure the net impact of the flows in all directions, but that will not be provided as long as the beneficiaries want the flows to be hidden from sight. If the needed accounting system did exist, making it perfect or even sufficiently valuable would be difficult, but even so, it would make a valuable start in the right direction. The model would need to be multi-dimensional and complex to begin to capture everything required.
Nonsense at the expense of both people and the Commons has been enabled in the United States in exchange for political funding and other favors that could be captured on the new kind of multi-flow the balance sheet. Public responsibility by citizens is needed to repair the problem, but no action has been seen yet. Voting is not enough to accomplish everything needed even if it would be a valuable start in the right direction. More of it would be better. Many dysfunctions have resulted just because many people do not vote in off-year congressional elections even if they do vote in Presidential years. That commonly ends up creating a Congress headed in one direction on behalf of one group of voters while the President may want to head in a different direction on behalf of a different constituency. This is part of the citizenship responsibility needed in the public interest, but it is only part.
Irresponsible and negligent citizens, officials, judges, and companies are not just destructive of the Commons, they are destructive of democracy. The most empowered are elected and appointed officials allied in a common financial interest with politically-active corporations, and they could not do as they do if greater citizen vigilance was possible. Sometimes, because of the power of judicial precedent, the most active facilitators are judges lending support to those who appointed them to the Bench. They are members of a court not much different from the court of a medieval king. In the United States, the President is the temporary king of the modern court but the motivations are not much different. Appointed officials are the courtesans wanting to please those giving them a comfortable and convenient platform to operate from in doing the work they do.
Because of the governing reality and the way things work to prevent the pursuit of truth and marginalize the public interest, those needing to be excluded from voting and political participation, including election and appointment to public office, would be the following groups. They would be expected to account for what they have done as well as for their attitudes and the methods they have used to serve themselves ahead of others:
• the people, including executives of corporations and corporate “people” and their lobbyists doing as they want without seeking independent, objective evidence in determining the right thing to do;
• the people failing to change course or their own attitudes in response to destructive reality; these are commonly the people driven by ideology or sense of entitlement instead of by rational pursuit of public-spirited wisdom. This is important in the case of Monsanto because genetic science has learned a great deal since they started working on their transgenic profligacy, but Monsanto has not changed course in response to the changes. They persist as if no change in the science had happened. They started in a time when many thought one gene equalled one trait and traits could be added without changing anything else, but that understanding was more wishful than justified by the existing science even 30 years ago; now it is well understood that many gene interactions do change. Genetics are not as simple or as easily manipulated as was formerly thought;
• the people impugning and disrespecting other people’s sense of integrity, forcing them to accept tyranny without any objectively established rational or scientific justification;
• the people disrespecting millions of years natural biological evolution, believing men (and women) should be able to improve on it before they have done the work and taken the time to begin to understand the controlling realities governing it;
• the people denying and obscuring truth to follow their own economic interests or the interests of their political allies—at the expense of the common public interest;
• the people pursuing easy economic convenience and money-driven power over difficult justice, truth, and wisdom;
• the people following the herd or the money without regard for the committed diligence needed to discover whatever is honest, rational, truthful, and wise. This is especially shameful when it is seen among appointed officials, including judges, who should be centrally committed by oath to serving the public interest ahead of any special interests;
• the people assuming an imperious, arrogant, and hubristic entitlement to force the truth to fit their preconceptions ahead of the humility needed to faithfully and honorably fulfill public, self-governing responsibilities;
• the people failing in the essential due diligence patriotism requires;
• the people pursuing lazy, pre-established ideology over analysis and reasoned, cooperative collaboration. Citizenship is not easy, and it should not be sugar coated to make it seem easy. It is a serious challenge, and it should be. Citizenship responsibility, with voting as a small part of it, is a gift the beneficiaries of a democracy give to each other. The gift is given because the benefits of democracy arise from it—despite the difficulty of the needed work. Because of this, voting should not entitle people to serve their own interests; they should be expected to do the best they can to serve the common interest through the way they vote;
• the people believing the pursuit of private interests more important than world-wide public interests. This includes those thinking the pursuit of private interests will serve the public interest as Adam Smith argued in 1776. Smith’s assertion can be true under some economic circumstances, but it is not automatically true in the modern economic environment. Sometimes, it is massively destructive beyond all benefit, and in Monsanto’s case that has been the result;
• the people who try to solve problems by splitting the difference or supporting the most politically powerful at the expense of the Commons and the truth needed to protect it. Compromise can never be a substitute for wisdom; it is only an expedient short-cut when people do not want to take the time or engage with each other sufficiently to determine where truth, justice, and wisdom lies. This needs to be understood more widely than it is.
This is a list of some of the people who give U.S. democracy a bad name, and yet many of them believe their prominent position or their wealth should give them entitlement to do as they do. They congratulate themselves silently (or not) because they possess a sense of entitlement they see as a capitalist right. They see this right being supported by law, policy, and convention, and it is—in many ways. Flows of money are only part of it.
Because the necessities of responsible, community-building, community-sustaining citizenship have been lost in many places, among many people, and because passing a test about the meaning and responsibilities of democratic citizenship could be a good idea as part of everyone’s education, maybe people should be required to take a test on the subject every decade with the answers preserved in the public record, so divergent behavior could be publicly noted and compared with the written record—if that should be needed.
If enough people feel they are in a good position to judge others and would be willing to cast the first stone, flagrantly negligent people or companies could be required to wear a scarlet letter N for a year following a national vote to establish a conviction. That would publicize their case to everyone in the United States and around the world. Maybe a million or more citizen signatures should be required to establish an indictment.
The existence of this provision in the law might be enough to prevent any indictments from happening. That would be a valuable outcome, but if it did not work and a stiffer punishment was needed as a deterrent, the public pillory would be a possibility. That could be an inhumane response to the level of inhumanity some have shown in their own behavior. That might help to teach people the value of life and of respect for others.
In the United States, people often assess their own self-worth in relation to an entitlement they feel, and if they cannot feel an entitlement as a citizen, maybe based on some personal prowess, enterprise, lottery winning, or inheritance—or because they are an elected representative, political appointee, or judge in the world’s most wealthy nation, they might not see themselves as having as much personal worth. Depending on whether they measure worth by money, morality, or by accident of birth, some people perceive their sense of self worth from no more than the fact of their U.S. citizenship without doing anything usefully competent in the face of the agonizing and intentionally polarizing circumstances.
Most important, the nation’s worth will be determined as the aggregate demonstrated sense of worth of all citizens. If money is most important to the people, they will show that in the way they behave and relate to others. If something else is more important, they will show that. As a matter of observed fact, national pride seems to rest mostly in size of the national gross domestic product or the size and ferocity of the military. These are exhibited values.
Behind that would be the power of invented technology, but in the end, the moral question is: does the United States and its citizens want to take more than they give, squeeze others more or build something of value for everyone? In the answer to this question lies the image of the nation’s net moral worth from the vantage of many people in other nations.
Any nation’s worth has a moral component inevitably more important in the eyes of people in other nations than the financial, economic, diplomatic, or military component; it is the sum of the efforts made by everyone to set a moral example and help their nation set one. This reality is inescapable no matter if the observed citizens are employees of a Wall Street bank, aerospace engineers, truck drivers, dentists, line-backers, elected or appointed officials, cellists, steeplejacks, teachers, librarians, zoo-keepers, or farmers.
What people do and reveal in their attitudes shows what is important to them. In the past, the United States has benefited from liberties extended by the goodwill of others, and sometimes this has happened because others have been confident about the nation’s underlying morality, but maybe these others have been more wishful than accurate in their perceptions, or maybe things are different now than they were in the past. If so, the increased power of corporations would be a major part of the moral difference.
Maybe others have extended good will to the United States in the same way subjects have given loyalty to a king or a prince—because they hope to gain goodwill or largess or some other benefit in return. If the people of other nations feel they have been abused, a change in attitude may not come quickly, but without regard for this reality, some in the United States feel entitled to buy the goodwill of others or expect it in response to their own wealth. That may or may not work. In India and elsewhere, it has worked with the politicians the same way it does in the United States, but not so much with many others, including the many dead farmers counted over the years since Monsanto started doing business there.
Maybe many of the wishful have been looking back toward the past instead of seeing what exists in the present. That could be the case if the U.S. values of the past have been dissipated as the people have been infected by the values they see in other places. Maybe it is like the language teacher hired to teach a Cockney how to speak the king’s English who ends up speaking like a Cockney himself. Perhaps the moral equivalent of this has been observed in the United States as the result of increased interaction with the rest of the world.
No matter where the U.S. behavior comes from, the national values demonstrated to others arise from whatever people choose to provide for others to see. That includes the offered products of companies, and Monsanto’s products are now prominent among these.
When President Jefferson sent the Navy to the Mediterranean in response to piracy similar to the piracy seen recently in the Indian Ocean, it was not the naval power that was impressive so much as the values and the performance of individuals. This was after the U.S. fleet was no longer protected by the British, so they needed protect themselves against pirate exploitation. The result 200 years ago caused the commander of the Tripolitanian fleet to be disgraced before his own culture, but now the United States fights its enemies as if the contest were a video game with the missions carried out by missile-armed drones. Under this method, personal values and performance are no longer able to stand out.
Not even the mission to capture Osama bin Laden in Pakistan caused any disgrace in the eyes of their own culture. Neither was the heroism of those carrying out the mission lauded in other nations. Others may admire the U.S. technology, but they are less likely to admire those using it. Before that can change something more than technical competence would need to be seen. Maybe the situation would have been different if bin Laden had been brought back to stand trial for what he did. That could have manifested a testimony on behalf of the rule of law, but many would not have wanted to see bin Laden made a martyr.
Little or no respect for U.S. ability resulted from the bin Laden mission, and that would be the result of little concern in the U.S about the thinking of the people in other nations. The observed U.S. behavior was not seen as exemplary morality in the eyes of many other people, and that would be the outcome continuously as long no one in the U.S. cares what others will think. Now the U.S. way of behaving has been seen by others as technological bullying through the use of drones, and that is also seen as cowardly behavior. The matter is not helped when U.S. spokespeople persist in calling the antagonistic methods of others cowardly when they are not cowardly in the view of the culture sponsoring them.
At best, drone use may only achieve a temporary stand-off until a new tactic can be figured out by the opponents. At worst, the United States has been seen as violating the national sovereignty of the people of other nations with net negative impact as the moral result. Before better is possible, something international admirable and respectable is needed.
Similarly, Monsanto’s seeds and chemicals are a form of technological drone warfare against the wisdom of the ages and the long-term interests of all people everywhere. When the caused destruction and the observed amoral expediency outweigh any touted benefit, the result of Monsanto’s project is a net negative with costs for the United States greater than any costs to the company. This is how the operation of the political system distorts value and corrupts the national image. Many people in other nations do not see Monsanto’s products as awesome technology they want to learn how to use for their own benefit; more often they fear it, even if the largest, most heavily capitalized farmers want to be using it.
Meanwhile, many of biggest megaphones in the United States want to see transgenic agriculture wishfully the same as they have for too many blind and oblivious decades. This shows the affliction of a political culture that does not take the time to learn the truth before getting on the bandwagon. The whole nation is discredited when this is the best the governing system can produce, and no one in the political establishment seems to care about the failure to produce, independently investigate, and objectively affirm an honorable and admirable technology able to serve the international public interest and the planet.
At the bottom of it lies the fault of the political system and the failings of the judiciary, and the desire to avoid exposing that would be the reason why so many would not want to allow our group of co-plaintiffs the chance to present our evidence about Monsanto’s failures. The trouble for all those wanting to hide the message is: the truth cannot be hidden forever, and only those wanting to shoot the messenger try to hide it. This is what the U.S. political system and its associated judicial chorus of pro-corporate supporters has now become.
If attitudes were not different in other nations, 64 nations would not require the labeling of transgenic food. The effect of labeling is to allow people to avoid eating transgenic food, and most people are now found to want to do that. Some want to do it even if they are hopeful about the future prospects for transgenic technology, but the biggest problem is U.S. alienation on the issue of food system sustainability from the people of many other nations.
At just the time when the U.S. governing model needs be exemplary around the world in showing others how to honorably and admirably make democracy work, the United States has failed to know how to represent its own ideal to others or even to know what it should look like in the international public interest. At the end of the Cold War, the United States was given a leadership opportunity, but the provided chance has been punted through the way it was understood and handled. Opportunism trumped morality and public service. At fault are not only U.S. leaders and appointees but also the citizens opting to support them.
Many people in the United States have seen victory in the Cold War as providing the nation an entitlement to be king of the world in service to national self-aggrandizement. Monsanto has ridden this bandwagon in pursuit of its own benefit; they are like elephants dancing among the chickens while continuing to sing their own praises, trumpeting about feeding the world when in fact they can only destroy the capacity of world to feed itself. They are as wishful about their own prospects as those blindly and myopically supporting them. This is the message needing to be established in court, if the defenders of corporate power will ever allow it. Revolutionary change the same as the change wrought against King George III may be needed before anything can be different than it is. Maybe people will need to march in the streets the same way the people of Egypt have, but that will not be enough if abuse results.
Dedicated service to the people of the world under a sense of moral responsibility has not been seen as much when corporate and pro-corporate political behavior sets the dominant image. Mostly, when the opportunity to do better has been available, it has been passed up.
Instead of being a servant to the world, knowing the attitudes of the world-wide human constituency is more important to U.S. future success and the welfare of U.S. citizens than whatever the citizens of the United States may do or think, many in the United States have pursued a sense of entitlement much like the one shown by King George III in 1776. U.S. supercilious hubris notwithstanding, the net effect of the attitude and the behavior is no better now than it was in the 18th century. It wears different clothes and sits on different furniture, but the self-certain sense of empowerment is hardly differentiable.
This is an issue of moral character as well as a matter of respect for both nature and science. The time is now to think about the way the national image is set and how it affects others, but that virtue does not come easily anymore in a nation where cynicism and sense of entitlement have become more important virtues than any sense of the need to deliver a valuable public service on the way to admirable and respectable honor, wisdom, and justice.
The back story under our lawsuit against Monsanto is full of people with the above cited citizenship failings, and maybe everyone in the United States is guilty of failing to stand up against observed habits of anti-democratic abuse and entitlement. Everyone should have and could have asked the questions they long needed to have been asking, but many have not felt the need to ask them any more than their leaders have. Maybe they have not known how to ask them. Fulfilling democratic citizenship responsibility requires knowledge as well as commitment, but in their own interest, the empowered will not yet enable either.
Beyond the gravely flagrant cases needing collaborative public attention, everyone should be able to decide for themselves where they fit into the U.S. picture (or do not fit). In the end, the views of others should not matter as much as our own conclusions because change can only come from whatever we each decide about ourselves and decide to do to fix the image we find in the mirror. What matters are the assessments we make about ourselves and the moral role we decide to play as the result of what we come to know and understand.
The question for all people (and also all U.S. corporations) is: have we done and expected others to do as our understanding of own ideals require of us? We all have a stake in the issues being raised because we all eat, and whatever we take for granted about food or handle negligently will determine who we are morally both individually and as a nation.
Through our behavior, we determine how others around the world will view us, but more important, we determine our physical and mental capacities to do the work we need to do. As the result of the work done to assure healthful food quality, we determine our future.
What we choose to eat and allow others to eat determines what we can become, what we help others become, and how we will be seen as a nation—now and in the future. It matters, for example, if a quarter of all young people are obese and get half their daily calories from drinking sodas. That affects what they can do and what they can become in the future.
Everything we choose to put in our mouths and encourage others to eat involves a moral choice with respect for our functionality and our service to others over a lifetime. Either we go along with a range of abuse or we choose to stand up against it. Passive or active, that’s it.
Every store, restaurant, brand name, or food product we choose to patronize involves a moral choice. The kind and amount of food we eat involves a moral choice. If we choose to eat a steak, we make a moral choice related to the way the animal giving its life for our benefit was treated and fed. If meat animals are fed toxins, allergens, and anti-nutrients impairing its health, that will affect us when we eat the meat—or allow it to be eaten by others, but more important is the morality seen in the way animals are treated, and that includes the way they are fed. Confinement is not the end of the issue; it is only the beginning. Even if we do not care what we eat, though that, too, is a moral issue, what we allow others to eat and provide for them to eat is a much bigger moral issue.
We make a moral choice when we fail to think about the place where our food comes from and the way it was raised. The morality of a culture is measured through the way its domestic animals are treated. Treatment of the soil and soil life raise a similar moral issue. A moral choice is exhibited through the way respect for the gift of nature is exhibited.
A moral choice is made through the way the ingredients in food come together as the result of policy and the decisions of food manufacturers, cooks, and chefs. A moral choice is made in the way food is cooked and in the corners cut as part of its preparation and delivery.
Many of these choices have been made for us by others, but we can decide if we want to go along with them or require different choices. We can ask questions if we want to. By these moral choices and others altogether in aggregate, the moral character of our nation is known. If we do not offer food others would consider fit to eat, that is the result of moral choices made over many years by many people, and it reflects on all citizens of the nation.
We can decide if we want to go along with food drenched in Roundup or some other herbicide and designed so it can be. We can decide if the food we choose will be grown with the use of chemicals or not. We can decide if we want food carrying its own internal pesticide. We can decide if we want to concern ourselves about that. Even if the corporate mainstream media have not helped advance the needed discussion on the issue, we can still do our part in our own circles, among the people we know. We can share knowledge if we want, or we can refuse to think that could be something basically important to be doing.
Still worse is the rapid increase in healthcare costs and the impairment of national possibilities as a result of that. The United States is advancing toward a time when its healthcare costs will become too large to be paid, but the causes of illness are not investigated because that would be politically inconvenient. As has been pointed out by others before now, we could soon get to the point where there are only two kinds of people: patients and healthcare givers. As a nation, we are on that statistical trajectory.
This is what the United States has come to, and as a result, the nation cannot be admirable. The nation has lost its way on the subject of its food, and that is more shameful than many other failures. It increases the likelihood of many other more serious future failures, because poorly-nourished people are likely to become dysfunctional in more than one way.
Not much more than a half-century ago, only one boy in about 100,000 was autistic but now it is one boy in 50, and by 2050, it is projected at the current rate to be one boy in every two. That is as bad a measure as might ever be needed to project the nation’s level of future dysfunction, but there are others related to many chronic afflictions in the United States. These are the issues needing to be addressed when it is possible to end the stonewalling.
As citizens, we can decide if we want to ignore or end the public health destruction and environmental damage caused by the provided food in the United States—and the decisions made for us about it. We can decide where this food goes in other nations around the world and who will unknowingly eat it. We can decide if anyone is well-served by eating it. If we want to fulfill our moral responsibility to each other as world citizens or even citizens of our own communities, we cannot be as blind, oblivious, and negligent as we have been.
If we continue as we have so far, we will be as myopic as others have been on our behalf. If we allow decisions to be made without informing ourselves and figuring out where wisdom lives, we will have shown how much we misunderstand the meaning and requirements of both democracy and wise nutrition on our own behalf. In this lies the difference between responsibility and negligence for ourselves and for others; from one or the other cultural failure or success will be determined, and so will the attitude of others observing it.