I work very hard to live a sustainable life and to leave as little damage to the environment as possible, and I do so because it's what I think is the right thing to do. I live in a warm loving home, I have stock piled food and I never go hungry. It seems like such an easy life, but I am very aware that in a blink of an eye it can all be gone. Would I bounce back if that happened, probably but that is because I am the kind of person that if you give me a lemon...I won't just make lemonade...I will grind it up and spit it out. That is my makeup, my disposition..I was both born with it and learned it thru life's circumstances. I know what it is like to go hungry, to have people in stores ignore you because you clothes are ragged, I have stood in free cheese lines, accepted free food boxes, lived off of powered eggs and canned meat in some kind of slime, I have felt the wrath of people behind me in a grocery store when I used food stamps, and have seen the heart breaking look on my kids faces because they could not have what other kids had. I have been there so I write this from both sides of the fence. I am not writing this to put anyone down because I am a firm believer that most of us do the best we can with what we were given. For everyone is affected by circumstances in a different way, everyone feels pain in a different way, everyone reacts in the only way they know how. I am certainly not putting anyone down for having the means to live sustainably. But my point is that we do have the "means" to live that way regardless how we got there....we have the privilege of having a home, a little (or a lot) of land to grow our own food. And this is what has been on my mind lately, that I have been graced with a disposition that bounces back, with enough money to live in a home, and wear clothes that makes people in stores rush to ask if they can help me. But it is not that way for so many people, and I have started wondering if we few who have the means can help the ones who don't.
I work in a beautiful city, in a beautiful 100+ year old building, but if you step outside the door, a big face full of reality will hit you. The homeless, the ones who somehow did not find the way to that dreaded, nasty saying pull themselves up by their bootstraps. People whose bodies are destroyed by drugs and alcohol (in most cases I suspect, their only way to escape), mothers with little children begging for food, people 20 years younger than me who look 20 years older than me. How did they get were they are? Is it their own fault? Maybe it is but maybe, just maybe its because they just didn't have the means, mentally or financially to pick themselves up. Maybe they started using to ease the pain and it became a perpetual spiral. Maybe they just lost their job, lost their home, lost the will to keep trying or have tried to no avail. These people do not care about the environment, they don't care about GMO, they don't care about pesticides, they just want what we all want, someone to love them, a warm home, and enough to eat. They smell because they have no place to bathe, they do their business on the street because they have no where else to do it. Some of these people are mentally ill and have no one to help them. Some of them are so lost in alcohol or drugs they no longer even know they are there. Is it their fault...in most cases I think it isn't.
So with all of this said...can we as farmers or sustainable striving people extend ourselves to those that don't have the means....can we begin to make part of our fight for these people also? I have read that there are warehouses of stock piled food. We can't give that food away because it would lower the prices paid to farmers? Why? I know there are many farmers struggling just to keep afloat. But what the heck is wrong with that picture....think of it.. people go hungry so that farmers can barely eek out a living? I heard a homeless man talking to another homeless man as I hurried to the train excited to start cooking my Thanksgiving dinner, he said...It's a holiday...I don't want to be out here...how hard is it to handcuff me and take me to jail? Can you imagine...does it not make your heart ache. Can we make part of our fight to make the world better .....making it better for everyone? Can we give our surplus to those who need it ...can we fight to get the mentally ill back in institutions...can we volunteer at shelters...can we work to change laws that will help those that can't help themselves. Sure we all work hard, have very little time for ourselves, sometimes maybe just enough to feed our families, I realize that, but if we are truly serious about making the world better, isn't part of that helping the ones who haven't been graced with whatever it was that helped us get where we are now.
I know some of you will say you have no money to give, no energy to give, or (and I hope not) they deserve what they got. I get those feelings, but for me being sustainable does not just mean it's all about me, it means that I fight for those rights for everyone. Maybe if nothing else we can make just one person feel they are not alone or forgotten. Maybe we can take the abundance from our gardens and give it to a shelter or bring that guy at the train station selling newspapers for a living, a bag of plums or tomatoes. Maybe just once in a while we could not look away, look the person in the eye and say good morning. Sure there are the aggressive homeless and those you just have to walk away from...but even with them maybe as you hurry away you could say good morning..maybe just maybe they will hear it.