Courage to Encourage Truth Telling

Update at end
 The following is an excerpt from  a Thanksgiving post from the Organic Consumers Association. The lengthy post is rich with historic details of our food past.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, November 26, the Organic Consumers Association gives special thanks to the indigenous farmers and wildcrafters of the Western Hemisphere for cultivating and preserving our food, fiber, medicinal herbs, and biodiversity for thousands of years. We also bow our heads to our contemporary farmers, gardeners, ranchers, farm workers, food workers, cooks, and holistic healers who are following the ancient Via Organica, the organic way. As we give thanks to our organic ancestors and contemporaries, let us renew our essential pledge as organic consumers and activists to protect and safeguard the global commons. Let us pledge to build a healthy organic future of peace, justice, sustainability, and participatory democracy. Let us promise one another today that we will rescue and re-stabilize our climate, clean up our air and water, rebuild our soils, and protect our precious biodiversity from the ravages of "profit-at-any-cost" corporations and indentured politicians and scientists.


Seventy-five percent of the food or fiber we grow today was discovered and cultivated by the native farmers and hunter-gatherers of North, Central and South America.

These indigenous varieties include corn, beans, peanuts, cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, squashes, black walnuts, pecans, chocolate, tobacco, rubber, sunflowers, and medicinal herbs and plants.

Today, every one of these varieties is threatened by Monsanto, Big Pharma, and industrial agriculture, among others, who are privatizing and patenting seeds and the gene pool, eroding biodiversity, degrading the soil and water, contaminating the food chain, and destabilizing the climate.
My own plans for the day don't include anything special. My son is working and I'm working on a grant. Besides, my heart isn't into it. This year I am struggling with how obvious the US empire is showing all actions in foreign and domestic arenas as transferring all wealth, control to the ruling corporate class. I keep thinking of the piece I read three years ago, highlighting yet another hypocritical holiday masking privilege in terms of honor and generosity. The AlterNet post suggests no thanksgiving, but a day of atonement instead.
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

That the world's great powers achieved "greatness" through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.

[. . .] Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."

Thomas Jefferson -- president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages" -- was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "[W]e shall destroy all of them."
Well, in for a penny- in for a pound . . . I'll pile on with the British empire and how it caused the famines of the last several centuries in India. This is my recommendation to read Jill Richardson's fact-filled post at La Vida Locavore, excerpted here.
As it turns out, once upon a time, India could feed itself. The book Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis tells the story of how the British robbed the Indians of their wealth, wrecked their agricultural system (in order to serve the needs of industrial Britain), and then watched as millions of Indian people starved. The book also covers other countries - mainly China and Brazil, but also African nations, and the Philippines. Each nation has a similar story to tell, but for this diary I am going to focus on India.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, there was a series of abnormally strong El Nino cycles. Famine erupted around the world, in each of the places I named above. Some of the disaster is due to El Nino, but the magnitude of the disaster - the difference between a drought and a famine - is manmade.
I think we all should read these three pieces in the cold light of day. I am often confounded at the number of people who say we must support US troops, men and women who offer up their lives for this country. But, if these same people, we US citizens, are asked to be uncomfortable, challenged, or critiqued in any way we rant and wail about our freedoms. We are commanded to be positive and loyal to these orchestrated propaganda holidays. Why is it acceptable that some die and others can't even be inconvenienced? It's a terrible experience for me to gradually pull away the blinders and acknowledge the racist, misogynist, homophobic words and actions that fill the national press, my local blog / city hall and neighborhood attitudes. I can understand the lack of courage, but I simply can't understand the complete unwillingness to encourage. Believe me, I am thankful for the goodness I see, hear and feel each and every week. Without this I couldn't keep believing there is a way beyond. How wonderful there are loved ones to gather together. But, it doesn't license the continuation of celebration for all the wrong reasons. I'd like to think we can encourage each other to face the realities and to remind each other we won't die if we reduce our consumption, eat seasonally, eat locally, stand up to big business/big corporate empire, respect each other's labors and lives.

Update #1: It took me stepping away and coming back to this post to realize how often I presume readers are from this country. I still haven't grasped how thankful I should be that there is a whole world plugged into the internet, not just the USofA. My apologies for such an ethnocentric perspective. It is a common failing of mine - I cringe to admit. What I'd welcome is readership from abroad who let me know about this same kind of issue revealed in other countries. I am indeed happy that the international social justice movement is growing. In the long run, there are millions of the disenfranchised in so-called democracies against the few with all the capital, military, judicial and political clout. Happy thanksgiving for that.

Update#2: I just visited Shakesville with a repeat post from Shaker Renee of Womanist Musings on the same genocide vein as above. Another worthy read as far as truth telling. Go visit. But, I can't resist adding a humorous twist on this heinous tale via Eddie Izzard. I love this man.

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