Phrases or lines from songs often circulate through my head while I'm working. This week, the lyrics from a song called, "Someone has to Die," by the band "Maritime" have been on my mental playlist. The refrain goes, "Someone has to die to make room for you and I..." (http://www.last.fm/music/Maritime/+videos/3100107)
I bend over the weeds on the plot we're farming, humming to the corn, "Something has to die, to make room for you and I." The weeds must go in this work of (un)natural selection. I watch Erynn pull out a big tap-rooted weed and hold it to the sky, like some victorious warrior holding up the head of her enemy. Casey moves along her row, cursing the stinging nettles in almost respectful undertones (they are the smartest weeds we know) as she flings them to the ground. I stomp down the Malva I'm pulling, a weed variety which, I'm sure, shares a Latin root with the word "malevolent." "Something” - in this case, the weed, has to die to save water for the preferred plants, and to make room for what we want to grow.
Then I wonder how this concept applies to our human population. There's no arguing that the U.S. is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and that with this power has come major control of global economic markets. In general, U.S. citizens, particularly the upper class and also within our wide upper-middle class bracket (myself included), have enjoyed living in a state of luxury that the vast majority of world will never experience; two or three cars, two or three kids in college, paid vacations, closets brimming with clothes, expensive houses (maybe a little too expensive), expensive diets. These things aren't wrong in themselves, are they? We have a right to have these things.
But I wonder, as I pull up certain plants to favor the growth of others, how many “someones” have had to die to maintain “room for you and I” at the top of the global economy? I'm no economist, but I understand that other economies in the world are crippled to support our top-dog status. There is more of a connection than we like to imagine: many bodies die daily through poverty and unjust working conditions, and we are able to live in a level of excess that we've become accustomed to here in the U.S.
I hope that this economic crash has woken us up in some ways to our unsustainable lifestyles. We need to be shaken awake, I think, in order to realize that our lifestyles have been privileged by our country's economic position and its continued dominance, oppression even, of the poor within (I think specifically of immigrants here) and without (those working in unaccountable multinational companies, for example). As Paula Crossfield says in a blog I just started following called, “Civil Eats” (http://civileats.com/), “The bottom line is that we often think of our wealth as a product of our ingenuity, education and technology, when it is more specifically the result of the exploitation of other countries' labor and resources.” Essentially, many someones have had to die to make room (and wealth) for you and I.
I'm still wrestling with the question - what alternatives do we have in this globalized economy of ours, and how can we seek to live a simpler lifestyle that is not based on exploitation? I believe that this Abundant Table Farm Project will be a way of living, working, and distributing resources that steps out of the current system, which promotes living at the expense of others' lives. For starters, we're working for a family farm that does not view our labor as a means to increase their profit. We're trying to find ways to get our CSA boxes to all who would like organic, local produce, without restricting distribution to those with full financial means. We're involving our supporters, the “consumers” to take part in a new relationship of consumption in which they are involved in the process of production. (This means, for instance, that supporters and volunteers can come and help us with farm work and harvest)! So for me, this year is one step in the “out-of-step” pattern of thinking that is required of us if we are to live in a way of greater sustainability and justice for all, not just the economically privileged.
Because humans aren't like weeds in this farm's economy... there is room here for all to live and flourish.
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