"Cowardice is the worst vice of men," Yeshua Ha-Nozri said softly to the fifth Procurator of Judea, the cruel knight Pontius Pilate, when they met at the Herod's palace on that fateful, unbearably hot 14th day of Nisan. If you do not believe me, please read the crown jewel of all literature, "The Master and Margarita," written some 80 years ago by a Russian doctor and writer, Mikhail Bulgakov.
Yeshua is of course Jesus. But what does His quiet remark have to do with food, biofuels, poor health, hunger, and politics as usual by the rascals who have Jesus' name smeared all over their campaign slogans, even when they try to eat our souls?
We are cowards because we loath to resist the more powerful in our lives, even when we know they are wrong. As importantly, we are cowards because we are afraid to think for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. Since we are cowards we are eager to accept half-truths, or blatant lies, if they sooth us and make us avoid difficult choices. With time, lies that surround us soak in through our skins and become parts of who we are. This is how we elect and re-elect most politicians. This is how we eat bad cheap food and buy expensive vitamins and mineral supplements to make up for what we miss. This is how we come to believe that the food-like edible substances we purchase in the centers of all supermarkets are actually food. This is how we maintain that burning freshly killed plants is morally superior to burning the ancient ones.
But enough about us. An agricultural policy that has supported growing corn, wheat, soybeans, sugar, and cotton (and rice sometimes) to the exclusion of everything else has consequences. We now eat corn products in pretty much all processed food and we also eat it as meat. Cheap sugar saturates soft drinks we gulp by the buckets.
There are side-effects, though. We have grown obese and unhealthy, and we have essentially emptied countryside of farmers in exchange for industrial plantations that cover the vast, empty swaths of land with a single plant, cause soil erosion and chemical pollution everywhere, and use cheap temporary labor - preferably illegal Mexicans. As we get Type II diabetes and heart disease, and our health care costs skyrocket, the farmers grow old and tired, and their children move to town.
So we are left with more of the same. Enter corn ethanol. Archer Daniels Midland had a brilliant idea to expand corn acreage and subsidies, and use dirt cheap corn to produce a substandard, ecologically damaging, and thermodynamically unfeasible car fuel - and a large profit for themselves. We cooperated and, munching on popcorn, accepted another lie: America's energy independence. Corn ethanol would provide us with energy independence?! Please, I am too tired and disgusted to laugh. But if not corn ethanol, then "cellulosic" ethanol from grass, for sure, cross my heart! Oh, please again, I am tired of laughing even more.
Now, on to the food prices. Yes, they are going up because we have decided to burn ever more food as car fuel, and support Monsanto's design to control the global supply of all seeds. (Now, that's really dangerous!) We do not care yet in the U.S., but let's look at Egypt and Mexico, and you will see that the food price increases in the first case, and driving out subsistence farmers in the second one do have consequences. But, again, we have known this for years. See here and here.
So, in summary, our hard-earned tax dollars support a few ag-corporations that in return deliver cheap commodities, which are then chemically transformed by other corporations into what we came to believe is food. Still other corporations treat us for the ill-effects of consuming this stuff, and others sell us expensive vitamins and medications. We have destroyed farming that used to produce food, not merely commodities, and allowed up to 1/2 of U.S. corn to be burned as fuel at a huge expense of water, soil, our health, coal and natural gas. We have caused food prices to go up worldwide, and destabilized dozens of countries.
But, most importantly, we have remained content in our self-delusion, and continued to re-elect the same rascals, who tell us the same tired lies. Should we finally snap out of it?
Yes, it is time.
Remember Jesus' words: "Cowardice is the worst vice of men."