BY MARJORIE STEWART
Like all powerful tools, social media platforms are best used with some restraint.
Unfortunately, the first outcome of social media was that the difference between private and public conversation disappeared. Private conversation was the place to vent unconsidered feelings with trusted listeners in safe places. Suddenly, there were more and more ‘friends’ present, if not really with us and available 24/7 to receive thoughts that previously would probably have received some reflection before being blurted out.
At the same time, multiple crises began emerging from global systems as mounting extraction of non-renewable fuels for energy became increasingly destructive to our planet. For decades, the United Nations has been warning that city life for increasing numbers of humans is unsustainable, while small, sustainable, manageable communities are disappearing.
In a recent Tyee article, culture editor Dorothy Woodend, prompted by the uncivilized attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, compared the rioters to angry chickens. When two chickens compete for food, they fight until one submits or dies, establishing a pecking order. Pecking orders are established by violence. Woodend connected the “angry chickens” behaviour to “Bare-faced, violent and on-going repudiation of even the most basic common courtesy and civility. Worse still is the lack of shame…” And further that “the point [on Jan. 6] was to do some serious hurt and that appetite hasn’t been slaked.”
What is clear is that there is a great deal of anger enflaming people who know that they have been let down by the alliances between politicians and corporations and the complex tangle of failing systems which have grown out of those alliances. That anger, exacerbated by the rudeness and discourtesy commonplace on social media, led to a breakdown in social behaviour.
And what does all this have to do with food matters? Coming generations face the failures of our self-indulgent and complacent behaviour and the least we can do is help them return to the simpler, smaller communities in which humans thrive. The best place to start is to curb our indulgence in too much over-processed, unhealthy food and limit our fascination with foods we cannot grow.
To do this, we will need many more regenerative farmers, who will need land and training. They will receive sufficient income if we re-direct our spending to local foods. We could also drop the sugar addiction, especially the carbonated sugary drinks (pop). Our water is a blessing to be protected from corporate greed and will keep us healthy straight from the tap, as provided by our municipal governments. First Nations water deserves particular attention in this election. As does land use. Behind real estate prices lie bad government policies as well as a perverse global economy dominated by corporate capitalism.
And while we do what we can to break the grip that political and corporate policies have on us, we can also resolve to practise living courteously and remember that we can all be stupid sometimes. Only a very small proportion of humanity can be classified as morons and some of them behave a lot better than those throwing about that classification as an insult.
Marjorie Stewart is past chairperson of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. This is her 240th and final Food Matters column. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.