Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | May 4, 2011

Monsanto more of a threat than Bin Laden (& other issues that don’t bring our youth into the streets)

As our streets filled last week with the euphoric, patriotic chants of the youth, I was struck by all the other things that our young people–college students whose parents and grandparents protested wars, patriarchal curricula, racism, and more–by and large hadn’t cared enough to go into the streets to protest:

-Three wars

-Cuts to education while incompetent and corrupt bankers get millions

-The unprecedented destruction of the biosphere

-Torture

-Corporate “personhood” and the consequent takeover of the democratic process

-An increasingly test-based and imagination-free educational system (No Child Left Behind)

-Money spent on prisons instead of schools

-Government support of agribusinesses like Monsanto

The last item in this admittedly incomplete list speaks to one of the central problems with the way we raise our children: we teach them that they are separate from the Earth’s living systems.  This video from Food Democracy Now gives a warning to some of the problems associated with agribusiness practices:

This video, of course, is not going to capture anyone’s imagination.  The issue is not information or logic, although having the correct information and dealing with it rationally are important.  Our youth need to begin to see themselves and their place in the world differently.  Our kids are stunningly passive, not because they lack courage, but because they see themselves as consumers.  You see, the issue of passivity is very much the same as the issue of sustainability.  Our youth don’t see how anything else going on in the world has anything to do with them because they’ve been taught that they are primarily individuals.  The Facebook generation is self-indulgent and self-absorbed like none before it.  They identify with what they buy, not what makes them feel alive. Or what, quite literally, allows them to be alive.

The problem, of course, is much the same with adults.  Our children are self absorbed because we are, and we indulge them in every new toy that encourages them to be all the more so.  But I would like to think that our youth have a spirit that is less easily crushed, that they have more courage.  That they can be more idealistic because they don’t have mortgages. We need the folly of youth because their is truth in it, even as it is based on so much they don’t yet understand.

The other day I showed a group of students this video from the 1976 Soweto uprising:

Unlike the video above, it really got their attention. But they’d never heard of Apartheid, and couldn’t think of anything that they would go out into the streets to risk their lives for.  Again, it isn’t a lack of courage–these young people were not strangers to life-threatening situations.  Many youth risk their lives, but few have figured out what makes them feel alive.

It is a spiritual dilemma.  The issue of sustainability and the threat of Monsanto to our democracy, to our capacity to live on this planet, are no different from the issues that keep us at home, passive consumers, waiting to be told what to feel.

Addressing this very issue in Chicago, from June 16-19, is the Creation Spirituality Conference.  Click for more info:

Creation Spirituality Communities Conference Flyer

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