Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Love in Action, Non Violent Social Justice Movements, Ferguson, MO and Our Food Movements?

Love in Action, Non Violent Social Justice Movements, Ferguson, MO  and Our Food Movements?

Social justice determines who will eat and who will not and who will eat what and how much.
Social justice is a description of how our societies' resources, including food, wages and livelihoods, are distributed. In our beloved country and much of our  world  the lack of social justice has created food (and everything) apartheid.

Sadly, despite our best efforts to date, our American  food movements have  only been able to reach a small group, perhaps even less than the 1% and a very privileged 1%. (The USDA reports that about .4567% of Americans eat local food. This is a well accepted stat but will have to provide USDA source later.)  Furthermore, only 4% of farmers markets, a truly healthier food shopping option, are in the most deeply and negatively impacted American communities. [18]
As well, “Not all supermarkets are equal,” concluded one researcher questioning the effectiveness of putting supermarkets in low-income, oppressed, urban and rural American  communities to curb health epidemics and obesity.[1] This report was referring to what famed poet Sonia Sanchez orated about in the film “Soul Food Junkies:” that the vegetables in her NY community, “looked as if they were on crack.”[2]  And of course, local does not mean organic or just--just--there is that concept again, meaning in this context that food and farm workers and small and family farmers, are grossly exploited.

Consequently,  I was deeply inspired by global peace leader Thich Naht Hahn's  insight and guidance below on the critical essence of social justice movements as possible guidance for our food movement work. (From his book on nonviolent social justice movements, Love in Action) Here it is:  

"Leaders (of nonviolent social justice movements) must create and inspire love for the masses in the hearts of their people. They touch the people by altruistic acts born from their own love. When Nhat Chi Mai burned herself because she wanted to be a "torch in the dark night," she moved millions of Vietnamese. The force she engendered was the force of love for non-violent action."

"The nature of the struggle is not a doctrine to be materialized by a program of action; it is communication and love. Thus, its leaders must create and inspire love for the masses in the hearts of their people. They touch the people by altruistic acts born from their own love. When Nhat Chi Mai burned herself because she wanted to be a "torch in the dark night," she moved millions of Vietnamese. The force she engendered was the force of love for non-violent action."

"We have witnessed tragic and heroic scenes of love: a monk seated calmly before advancing tanks; women and children raising bare hands against clubs and grenades; hunger strikes held in patience and silence. Only love and sacrifice can engender love and sacrifice. This chain reaction is essential to the non-violent struggle. Thich Tri Quang did not make strategy; he fasted 100 days. And everyone who passed by the Duy Tan clinic at that time had to hold his breath.

"The usual way to generate force is to create anger, desire,and fear. But these are dangerous sources of energy because they are blind, whereas the force of love springs from awareness, and does not destroy its own aims. Out of love and the willingness to act, strategies and tactics will be created naturally from the circumstances of the struggle. Thus, the problems of strategy and tactics are of secondary importance. They should be posed, but not at the beginning."

"...Our struggle's purpose... the destruction of fanaticism and inhumanity, which are the real enemies of man."

"At a joint press conference with a Buddhist monk, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King declared, "both the colored people struggling for civil rights in the US and the Buddhist struggling for peace in Vietnam are bound to the cause of peace and social justice, and are determined to sacrifice themselves to achieve their goal."

"Westerners often misunderstand and see self-immolation as and act of violence. To the Vietnamese it is quite the opposite. By accepting extreme suffering, one lights the fires of compassion and awakens the hearts of the people, as Christ did. Among a number of Vietnamese who immolated themselves for peace were Thich Quand Duc, a monk, and Nhat Chi Mai, a young girl student."

"Another means - the one most often used by Gandhi to communicate with the people - has been fasting. Thousands of Vietnamese, both as individuals and in groups, have fasted to try to end the war. One fasts to pray, to purify one's heart and strengthen the will - or to arouse the silent awareness and compassion of the population. In 1966, Venerable Thich Tri Quang fasted for 100 days, deeply affecting the people of Vietnam. 

"There have been other painful sacrifice. In 1963, a girl student named mai Tuuyet An cut off her hand as a warning to the Diem regime, unleashing tremendous emotion among young people. In 1966, ten university students, Nhat Chi Mai among them, pledged to kill themselves to try to end the war, but the church forbade them. A year later, Nhat Chi Mai burned herself.

"There have been strikes, business licenses returned, resignations of university presidents, deans and professors (40 professors at Hue University), boycotts of classes and refusals to participate in the war. One typically Vietnamese act mentioned earlier has been the carrying of family altars into the streets to oppose tanks, a demonstration of the people's determination to pit the most precious symbols of their traditional values against the instruments of inhumanity and violence.

"Humanist efforts in Vietnam are suppressed by secret police, tear gas, suffocating gas, TNT, grenades, prisons and torture. False nuns and monks infiltrate the Buddhist movement, damaging its prestige and sowing seeds of fear. Extremists are thus encouraged to pervert and destroy the leaders and cadres of non-violent moments. Uncounted numbers of Buddhists and non-Buddhist leaders from all walks of life have been liquidated or sent to prison. In the School of Youth for Social Service, whose only aim is to help the peasants, eight young people have been kidnapped, six killed, eleven seriously wounded. Why? Because they refused to accept American aid or to participate in the war."

"The non-violent struggle in Vietnam goes on - amid vast pain and hardship. The world is just beginning to understand that peace everywhere, as well as the future of Vietnam, is linked to this movement. Its success and its contribution to the humanist revolution throughout the world depends upon your understanding and your help."

  I think that the people of Ferguson are "Love in Action" nonviolent social action, and that this is critical work to truly building democracy and consequently our food movements.

I obtained this video below from a friend who was present in Ferguson before the media arrived.  This is the night of the community's peaceful candle light vigil when the police blocked the way of the vigil. The people bravely and with the deepest love and self sacrifice put and continue to put their lives and well being at risk for the humanistic principle that the state cannot extra judicially  kill its citizens.  Perhaps the food movement has much to learn  from nonviolent social justice movements. R.I.P Mike Brown St.Louis Riot - Rip The General - Front Line

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