‘democracy’ is not just an empty word. It seems that democracy lost its meaning, became empty. Empty because it was so much taken for granted. Taking for granted a reality that populations had to work hard, if not fight hard to establish is a mistake. I forgot where I read this, but if you have to fight for it then it is no natural right. This goes just the same for the equality of women and women’s rights, feminism. These are tired words to many, but if we let the words slip into emptyness we lose what they support.
Ryszard Kapuscinski says on page 40-41: “At the same moment the Cold War was ending, the division of the planet into opposing blocs was ending, and a new world was taking shape, more mobile and open than before.” This is an optimism that I remember well, it is bewildering how the world changed from such an optimistic and fertile future to where we are now, an age where little got better and much worse.
Kapuscinski continues:” Two factors were especially conductive too all this mobility and freedom. The first was the rebirth of the spirit of democracy, which started at the close of the past century. The era of military coups and military regimes was ending, and so was the era of dictators, one-party systems, economic autarky, censorship and borders fenced with barbed wire.”[except that within 15-20 new fences with barbed wire would be build with little opposition. Israel and America established firm ‘blocks’ of impenetrable power when they put up their fences and walls, which are patrolled heavily.. The era of military coups may have been ending but it is today replaced with an era of American supremacy towering ever higher of the western perception and in dominance over a wide number of countries. The military coups are not gone, they have changed appearance and they are also often still instigated as before by American government. One just needs to look at any selection of John Pilger documentaries and it becomes clear that military coups that have been are not gone. ‘Deplacement’ of secular governments continues (see Noam Chomsky on Humanism on You Tube, 2nd video?).
Toppling of regimes that don’t play ball continues. It is so widely practiced, how do we live witht he lies that our countries go to war over? I believe in shared responsibility. It is not enough to say ‘but what can little I do? I have no say’. It simply is not enough to not be informed, I feel that to at least be a witness is a minimum responsibility of any citizen, especially us who are privilged with the luxuries that 1/3 of the world population dreams of. “Human kind can not bear very much reality” wrote T.s Eliot in Burnt Norton/Four Quartets.
But it is a reality human kind creates and therefor of utter importance that it sees what it does. I believe in seeing is the seed of changing. Seeing, condemning, judging, speaking up and out. A million small voices are not invisible nor inaudible to the world. I believe that small but continuous actions are important. Awareness that we CAN bear, activity that we CAN maintain. A lot of small steps regularly make for more gain in the long term than one big step each. This is my approach to environmental awareness, to slave labor, to human rights. I maintain a 10% effort to actively do something about my rubbish & it’s recycling. I avoid packaging, but not in the way that is unsustainable and impossible to keep up without changing life entirely to hippy living in the local park and living of other people’s refuse. But a 10% or 20% effort in avoiding wrapped goods and choosing unwrapped goods first can be maintained easily. It also becomes habit and ceases to be an effort. That is making the change I want to see.. “BE the change you want to see” Gandhi.
The practice goes for the type of products I consume. A house rule is: Buy no coffee unless it is fair trade. Buy no bananas unless they are fair trade and if possible also organic or at least one or the other. Buy no chocolate unless it is fair trade. This is my voice. The action of consuming is my voice for the world to hear. I am financially very restricted but I made a vow that luxury items chocolate and coffee should not be my luxury on the expense of child labour, bonded labour, misery and slavery. Bananas, I decided to simply not even look at the price of cheaper bananas, it is my responsibility in the world to act as I know gives me the strongest voice, gives change for better the strongest voice. I am under no illusion that the banana, coffee or chocolate trade will change significantly from my or the collective purchase of these fair-goods. But what will be made clear will be our collective support, at the annual bookkeeping events of calculating how much was spent on fairness they will see how strongly we feel about justice. Some of this does positively affect the farmers and producers and I am sure some won’t. But being defeatist and not supporting the chance of change would be not only cynical but just incredibly hopeless behavior. People have changed their realities, women got the vote, slave labor in the cotton fields of America was abolished. That women lose their lives over being sold into slavery, that 27 million people today are in bonded labour and in slavery does not change that what has in the past been thought impossible by many has become possible and serves as a beacon of light to the future in which we can make the impossibility of abolishing women and children sold into the sex-trade possible. We can make labor fair, but only if we all choose to support out words and ideal with actions.
Kapuscinski continues:”Democracy was becoming fashionable, no one objected to it, and even the most undemocratic parties had the adjective ‘democratic’ in their names.
This pro-democratic atmosphere has been enormously conductive to human mobility. The world is in motion on an unprecedented scale. People o the most varied races and cultures are meeting each other all over this more and more populated planet. If formerly, traditionally, in saying “Others’ we simply meant non-Europeans, now these relations are as extensive and varied as they can be, on a never-ending scale of possibilities covering all races and cultures – for the Chinese Others will be Malaysians and Indians, for the Arabs they will be Latin Americans and Congolese – the number of combinations is huge. A new Other has been born: a non-European who is Other in relation to another non-European…”
on a different note (the one about the chicken):
Nun wir wissen ja was wir machen müssen, wenn schon nicht vegetarisch/vegan, dann doch wenigstens biologisch und auf freiem Hof gehaltene Hühner kaufen. Ganz einfach. Vom Markt kaufen. Auch das GANZE Huhn kaufen hilft insgesammt sehr. Der Verkauf von dem Resthuhn was nach Brust und Keule übrigbleibt macht nämlich echt Hühnerfarmern in Entwicklungsländern zu schaffen, die verlieren ihr Einkommen wegen unserm luxus-konsum-verhalten. Das Resthuhn wird in große Blocks geforen dort dann am Markt vom Eisblock abgehackt zum super billigpreis verkauft. Der Handel mit Ortsnahem Huhn von der Farm nebenan wird unterboten und somit verlieren viele ihre Lebenserhatungsmöglichkeiten! ALSO nochmal: Öko Huhn kaufen oder langsam auf vegan/vegetarisch umschulen.. 😉
and now in english:
Now but we know what we can do. If not changing over to vegetarian/vegan then at least purchasing organic and free-range chicken is very easy. Buy from a local farmers market. And also buy WHOLE chicken when possible. After our luxury-consumption of just the breast and drumsticks: the sale of the remaining chicken wrecks havoc with the local economy in developing countries. The income potential of local farmers and sales merchants there is dangerously impacted. WHy? Our chicken-remainders are frozen into big blocks and those shipped then sold at far away markets. Vendors chip off the required amounts and the prices of the secondary grade chicken are so low no local producers can keep up. This is not good news as it destabilized local economies. People lose their livelihoods, successful businesses crumble. All on the back of our consumption preferences. SO: buy the ORGANIC chicken or at very least free range and be very sceptic about the free range label, buy from local sources try to avoid the supermarket. WIth the organic chicken you also don’t get the chemicals, growth hormones and medicines that can be fed to free-range. Be the change…..