It seems good timing on this day, the 4th of July to take a moment to pay homage to the intersection between farming, politics, the environment and what's in my heart. Bear with me, I might be all over the place with this one as I try to be more delicate than I actually feel.
It's dry and hot. Here in Western Wisconsin we are seeing lots of crop loss due to limited rainfall and warmer temperatures. Today, when everyone flies their America Flag, I wonder if perhaps instead of pledging allegiance to the red, white and blue, we shouldn't instead pledge allegiance to land, the earth, our host, our home? Don't you think it is time for humans to put the earth first? It's becoming an uncomfortable place to live.
I've been reading Robin Wall Kimmerer's (A Native American Ecologist) book, Braiding Sweetgrass, and in the midst of all my flag pondering, her chapter on the Pledge of Allegiance also caught my attention. She says, "For me, the cumulative impact of the Pledge of Allegiance, from my time as a schoolgirl to my adulthood, was the cultivation of cynicism and a sense of the nation’s hypocrisy—not the pride it was meant to instill. As I grew to understand the gifts of the earth, I couldn’t understand how “love of country” could omit recognition of the actual country itself. The only promise it requires is to a flag. What of the promises to each other and to the land?" If we all Pledged Allegiance to our home and it's gift of life, perhaps then we'd come together around a more important and indivisible objective.
In the last many months I have been heartened to see friends on both sides of our political divide joining forces to prevent a large dairy from becoming a HUGE dairy here in Pierce County. There is concern for our ground water, concern for Nugget Lake, concern for the neighbors who would have to smell this operation, concern for the river, and concern about the price of land as these big businesses gobble up farms. I am so happy to see that despite political ideology, this issue causes folks to theoretically wave the EARTH flag over the American flag.
Yet, hypocrisy hiding behind love of country shined through when in neighboring St. Croix county last month, a group of active citizens went to a Planning Council's meeting to protest a zoning change that will allow for a manure digester to be built in New Richmond. ("Letter: City P-U-tiful"). It was reported that after the council started the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, they postponed the zoning decision and shut down the discussion. Where is love of country in that, I wonder, and where is the justice the author pondered? It seems inevitable that the manure digester will get built and then likely accept waste from the CAFO being fought in Pierce County. The earth will not win, but individual freedoms (in this case the business owners) will.
Wait! I know, some of you are still on the part where I said, "the council started the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance..." Yes, you read that right. They STILL say the pledge here in Wisconsin both in schools and in adult meetings! I'm 54 and the Pledge disappeared from my life after 5th grade when school districts in Minnesota decided it was too divisive.
For those of you from Wisconsin who have never questioned this, let me explain. First of all, we may be one nation, but we are not one nation under God. We are a very diverse country and we allow for the separation of church and state. "One nation under God" violates the understanding that you are part of this country no matter your religious affiliation. Secondly, many members of this great nation have not been granted liberty or justice. Third, many people are offended by the actions of The Republic for Which It Stands. People protest our involvement in wars, in providing guns for "Wars on Drugs," and a myriad of other shady dealings across the globe. We are a flawed republic one who still rejects many of its citizens, who is still learning to be "one nation," still learning to build a society where all have freedom and justice, and learning what all of us needs in order to feel a strong pull towards communal goals so that "indivisible" can be a truth.
Right now, when I see the American flag or hear the Pledge of Allegiance, like Kimmerer, I see hypocrisy. I suspect the economy behind rugged individualism and the pioneer spirit of American Culture have clouded our ability to see what really matters. We seek MORE rather than ENOUGH. As the earth warms, our resources depleted and our waters poisoned, it sure seems we have a cause worthy of a Flag and Pledge of Allegiance - a purpose with potential to bring humanity together. I'd like to be part of something we ALL love, honor, cherish and work for.
I see it like this: the earth is our host. I like this analogy, because I think about how it feels to visit someone I strongly admire and love, how I feel in a place of great beauty, and how I behave when I am being hosted by others? These situations bring great reverence, love, respect and gratitude. In my humble opinion, it's time to give the earth that level of respect, and hopefully, in doing so, we might come together and maybe even agree on a symbol of love for country that we can all hold up with pride.
Some of my influencers this week:
Public Showing & Discussion "Right to Harm," a film that covers the negative effects that large factory farms can have on a community, and the failures of state agencies to regulate industrial animal agriculture. Stay after for a discussion about the film and hear stories from people in Pierce County who have felt the effects of factory farms directly. Choose either:
Tuesday, July 11 6:30 - 8:30 PM River Falls Public Library
Wednesday, July 12 6:00 - 8:00 PM Spring Valley Public Library
Ok. Enough with the bees in my bonnet! I am grateful that Mother Earth gave us a little bit of rain last night and looks to be bringing more tonight. Keep up the rain dancing and showing gratitude for gifts of the land.
Our SUNFLOWER OIL and MAPLE MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE are back in the store! Stop out for a little farm in your life! We're open daily.