What are we supposed to do?

This is about more than just us.

Governments all over the world refuse to acknowledge that women are humans, citizens, people. In China they’re forcing abortions, in other countries they restricting and denying abortions (and punish women who manage to survive their illegal abortions). Women are systematically raped and tortured in the Congo. Human beings and animals are starving to death. Entire species of animals are disappearing, forever, at an alarming rate. A child starves to death every five seconds.  Anything edible or non-edible from China you put in your mouth might kill you. the world is in a massive financial crisis. Soldiers and civilians are dying from combat, and even more soldiers kill themselves, unable to wrestle with the complicated mental anguish that results from their service. We’re running out of water. We’re running out of food. We’re living on a planet increasingly rife with radioactive nuclear waste. Intense poverty is killing millions and millions of people struggling to survive in a world where a few have more than they need.

Name a disease. It’s a problem. Name a basic right you cherish. Other people don’t have it. Name something that makes you happy. Most people don’t get that. Name a basic need you had no problem meeting today. Most people don’t even have that.

So what are we supposed to do? That’s not rhetorical. That’s not me pointing you to a website that will solve all this. I’m paralyzed with the breadth and depth of the trouble around me and have no idea where to start.

And I became mired in this paralysis because my friend is on her way to the Democratic Republic of Congo to research the bonobo population there. [You know, the endangered chimpanzee species that is as close to human as any other species (uh-oh I just lost the ignorant “we ain’t no monkeys ‘cuz the world was built in 80 days” crowd…oh well).] And some people are giving her flak, saying that the human suffering on the planet is significant enough that she is wasting her impressive mind and indefatigible desire to help by working with “just” apes.

And my question is, is that what we’re going to bicker about? Not how best to help or how to start, but which cause to choose? Are you kidding me? Choose something, and go freaking make an effort to fix it.


Real costs of doing business

You know what? It’s time for us to start paying what it costs to produce and ship the stuff we buy.

I’m sick of egg ranchers saying they can’t have cages big enough for the birds to turn around because eggs would be too expensive. Well, then, maybe we, as a nation, should buy fewer eggs. (Propostition 2 in California mandates that animals be able, int heir cages, tostand up, turn around or stretch. Egg producers are fighting the measure, saying they’ll all leave the state to continue cruel farming in other states. Won’t that make eggs more expensive because of shipping costs? Nope. I forgot that in this country gas is so cheap we can throw it away and not benefit financially from buying local.)

I’m tired of farmers saying they can’t pay workers a fair wage because strawberries and lettuce would be too expensive if they paid human beings what its worth to do backbreaking labor. Well, my friends, I would pick strawberries for a living if it paid well enough (I do pick enough each week to feed my berry-centric family), and I am willing to pay more for my strawberries because I want workers paid a living wage. I’m willing to pay a lot more because I can’t eat cheap strawberries without seeing the faces of families who can’t eat after a long day in the field because they’re not paid well enough.

I’m exasperated with fast food restaurants who say they can’t possibly raise minimum wage by a dollar because it would add two cents to the cost of a burger. Two cents. Yup, that would make people stop eating a quarter-pound of cow flesh-plus-feces, all right. Two cents.

I’m irritated that big agribusiness insists it has to modify and spray and innoculate and irradiate and otherwise alter food to make it cheaper. What about making it healthful? What about making it good or natural? What about paying a little more and eating a little less (and a little mroe wisely)?

No, I don’t want Americans to have to struggle to buy their food. But as it is, we’re not paying the real cost of food. We all need to be growing tomatoes on our patios and spinach instead of grass in our yards. Because underpaying businesses for their products means they underpay workers and abuse animals and the planet in the process.

Find out more about Prop 2 here: For yes and for no.

And perspective on the precious resources animals offer here.

And the real cost of strawberries here.