S316: Swords to Ploughshares

Swords to ploughshares is a concept in which military weapons or technologies are converted for peaceful civilian applications.

This year I simply can’t romanticize Veteran’s Day. That millions upon millions of people die because civilization doesn’t get a hold of itself and work things out? Or worse yet, what we are experiencing now. War as a profit center. The largest group of victims is not the soldier group, though there is no denying that tragic count. No, the larger toll is the women and children group. Where is their day of honor?

I am thinking almost constantly now about the people of war. Wars that comprise the manufactured Myths America ware series, War on TerrorTM and War on CrimeTM and War on DrugsTM are three of the current epic FAIL in terms of even grappling with terror, crime or drugs – yet alone eliminating. In fact all have increased exponentially with the billions of dollars wasted in ‘fighting.’ All represent enslaving our underclass in the US.

Consumer choice (the real term for Democracy) means a McJob versus selling drugs to make a living. Or it means McJob versus joining the military to make a living. This is what the disenfranchised get for options. And women directly get even fewer options, but women as victims of war – all war - is at the heart of my essay. Women and children suffer most from this desperate situation caused by the political Wars that have been manufactured by those in power. The writing here is directed about men, especially young men of color and financially challenged of any race.

Update 11/25 by Shaker Ginmar speaks directly to stories of women as victims of violence with harrowing facts. She has first hand experience that is invaluable for uncovering this violence.

In reading Van Jones I keep thinking of the prisons the young population is sucked into with the lack public good or common cause this country has suffered under the neo-conservative administrations of the last thirty years. Their efforts to destroy public services have been successful in shunting the poor, the people of color into prisons and the military.
The incarceration industry is the new Jim Crow; you don’t have to call him the “N word” if you just call him a felon. There are the same amount of drug problems in the ‘burbs that there are in the inner city, but in the ‘burbs the white kids get counseling, they don’t go to prison.

One of those white boys just held the office pResident and I suspect with his father and mother, even the counseling was skipped.

The current economic strategy is to take poor black kids, put them in jail in rural areas, and give poor white kids jobs as guards in that prison. That is the economic strategy. Rural towns can’t compete with industry, farms are all going away, so prison is an economic boon for rural communities.

Vets and non-violent felons are a potentially dangerous, raging category of people. Prison guards are one of the only things they are trained to do. They have been wronged in our public sphere, often abused in their parent’s homes and taught the wrong things in prison and the military. Violence is the credo and prisons are a profit center for the few at the top. Especially with the utter disregard our current system shows for anyone’s well being. Plus, military standards for recruitment are now allowing candidates with records, with mental and emotional problems into the military. Lack of veteran services and the employment nightmares faced by vets and felons are raising levels of frustration at each passing week.

And, women will be the primary target for this untreated rage and cruelty. These men were taught to be killers. Lets not candy coat the reality in Myths America homilies to patriotism and reformation. Essentially, the worlds these men inhabit have glorified all that is the antithesis to life, respect, sustainability and health.

Now just what do we think might come from training and attitudes like this? Oh yes, throw in the not so bright authoritarian Theocrat and pump up the threat to civilized coexistence. Hate is at the forefront of every single action they take on in their sorry hysterics. Jesus has been branded by these haters and it is more myth making to consider them followers of those teachings of love and giving.

I started thinking of an alternative to all of this myth making when I read about a northern California Dairy using recovering alcoholics as farm labor.

I grew up in Iowa and even 45 years ago I worked in corporate corn fields. Khrushchev visited the fields I would one day work in detassling corn.

The parade of foreign policy usually skipped rural Iowa, but on September 23, 1959, the eyes of the nation focused on Coon Rapids. Invited guests, curious onlookers, anxious reporters and photographers surrounded Roswell and Elizabeth Garst's white, wooden farmhouse. More than 700 National Guardsmen lined the highway between Des Moines and Garst's farm awaiting the official motorcade. Soviet Premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was touring the heart of the Midwest cornbelt to see for himself why "agriculture, America's biggest success, [was] communism's biggest failure."

Khrushchev explored capitalist agricultural practices hoping to adapt them to Russian kolkhozes. His encounters with Iowa farmer Roswell Garst opened dialog between the world's superpowers. Khrushchev believed that "an exchange of opinions would help the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. come to understand each other better and show greater pliancy in settling controversial matters." Roswell Garst agreed. "You know," Garst told Khrushchev, "we two farmers could settle the problems of the world faster than diplomats."

I am liking what Garst stated now. I was steeped in the myths of US success in agriculture. But, come to think of it, I am not sure the farmers were growing much real food. Agriculture meant corn and soybeans, neither grown for our tables. Gardens were not that common either. In fact I remember it was really low on the school social hierarchy to be a farm kid and I don’t remember my father, an optometrist, treating farmers as equal to the professional class. Disappointing to think of now, knowing his father was a coal miner in Kentucky. I am not the only one raised within a culture of hypocrisy, racism and entitlement. Gah.

We now have a chance to elevate all working class labor in the fields as well as the green jobs described by Van Jones. His plans are a closely related thought . . . raising the value and prestige of farm labor is akin to raising the prestige of green jobs like electrical workers, solar and wind technicians and the legions of other sustainable workers. All should be honored for the vital work that it is. Far more than a living wage is owed these people doing the real work of transforming our communities into a more resilient and sustainable places to live.
Soldiers, Marines – protecting and defending the security of our food sources. Instead of the bulldozing orchards of innocent families.

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.
The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees and carrying then back to their homes for firewood.

Call it reparation for the soul. Rather than killing to guarantee drilling for oil, how about keeping the soil free of invasive GM seeds, pesticides and other man-made threats? It is the most vital battle we should be waging, keeping the corporate predators out of our food and water supplies. And the solution to climate change and global warming can be found in part by farming organically, using such methods as "no-till" and the planting of winter cover crops, absorbs and holds up to 30% more carbon than conventional agriculture. Besides providing food in areas all across this country, it is converting all US farmland to organic would reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.

And the drug offenders, soldiers suffering PTSD, single mothers struggling to support children and others in distress need healing, nurture and support. There are millions of opportunities in growing food, raising animals, green collar jobs – farmers and workers earning a living wage with dignity. Working need not be an unhealthy thing. To work in the earth, to grow things, to tend to animals, to gather food, to provide energy is a healthy thing. People long for dignity, purpose and meaning. In the midst of economic crisis it is honorable to be a provider. In the midst of ecological disasters it is profoundly gratifying to be steward of precious resources.

What’s not to like? There are millions of damaged citizens needing the best care and support we can muster as a people. Besides guaranteeing universal health care for free, plus food, water and shelter; we owe people a chance to pursue happiness. I believe that is what is meant here.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

After discussing a preference for a hybrid version of centralized and decentralized – capitalist and socialist governance, Sharon of Casubon's Book makes this point in her conclusion of the Post Equity, Equity, Equity.

The really good news is that dealing with equity isn’t a one directional loss - it isn’t that if Americans start living a more equitable life they simply lower their standard of living. They raise our access to power, to self-sufficiency and the confidence in engenders. Greater equity gives us institutions on a scale we can comprehend and a richness in connection to the world around us. It is truly a little bit about using less - but even more about being richer..
Four Acres and Some Fuel? BTW, the ‘forty acres and a mule’ that was supposedly promised by the government for freed slaves is another myth. Read the whole story. TRANSPARENT: MYTH #2: `Forty Acres And A Mule'

It may not be forty acres and a mule, but it will be about some soil and healing teh cruel.

Besides Van Jones . . .
Homegrown is a movie being released now in selected theaters telling of the Path to Freedom urban homesteading.
A Nation of Farmers is a Sharon Astyk book coming out next spring.
Eat the Lawn is a video and challenge to the White House, where the Kitchen Gardener is selling the white House Lawn on eBay
Transition Towns are well under way in Britain and they are a model of a different way of living practiced by those well ahead of US communities.

This just in . . . Barack Obama incorporated Michael Pollen’s Sun Agriculture into his final days of campaigning.
There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy. I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.

Hopefully he can also connect the dots and refute what he has been claiming about clean coal and other misinformation. We can help him see the error. All of these things inspire within me the concept of making us whole again.

Obama picture
Young farmers picture
Green Collar Jobs banner
I would like to credit the startling lead photo if anyone can help.

Update: A Century of US Military Interventions here and here. I would say that it is also mythmaking to identify ourselves as a peaceful nation spreading freedom.

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