I suppose this would be the place where I count up all the noteworthy events that occurred during the past year and list my resolutions for the new decade. But last night I watched a documentary about Howard Zinn, the radical historian, and it reminded me that what growing my own food here in the District of Columbia, about a mile from the White House, has done more than anything is opened my eyes to the grotesque beast our country’s agriculture has become.
If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed that I no longer spend much time cataloguing the atrocities committed by industrial agriculture and its government partners. We could talk about the destruction of family farms and rural communities, the pollution, the nutritionally inferior products, the breeding grounds for new diseases. But there are other blogs that do this so much better.
It’s not that I no longer pay attention. Oh, we are following the news alright. It’s been so bad this year that my wife and I have actually contemplated other countries where we might live. Watching the heath care “debate,” for instance, put us in an especially dark mood. How is it that we are the last civilized country to embrace a sensible health care system? Americans have been sold off to greedy insurance companies like so much cattle. Would any other country tolerate its citizens going bankrupt trying to pay medical bills?
And then there’s the public debt. People thought Ross Perot was a nut when he talked about a “great sucking sound” as jobs left the country for foreign ports. He turned out to be a prophet. Not only are the jobs gone, but the country is nearly bankrupt, in hock over its head to the Chinese. What wealth hasn’t left the country has been sucked up by corporate fat cats. The American economy looks like a dessicated husk, the American Dream a cruel hoax played to the beat of perpetual war. Yet we let it happen. I blame the death of labor unions.
As Howard Zinn would say, it’s long past time when Americans should have taken their country back. Congress doesn’t need reform so much as to be completely replaced, and all its special interest friends sent packing. But where is the outrage, you might ask. We sense a seething anger abroad in the country, looking for a target. Now comes the greatest threat of all, a climate crisis born of our polluting ways–a reckoning of accounts–that could turn life as we know it into a nightmare. Yet the politicians dither. Free enterprise has hit a brick wall.
My conclusion: It’s hardly possible to grow vegetables anymore without becoming a raging insurgent. Is civil disobedience the next best option? Our goal is to live as much off the grid as possible, to prepare for a future of big unknowns. I wonder how many other Americans are thinking the worst is yet to come. More than anything, we are resolved not to become victims of our country’s lack of moral leadership.
Happy New Year.