Via Campesina: a Light To Feeding The Worldbio1
July 30th, 2009
La Via Compensina (The Way of the Peasant) is a worldwide organization created to protect the rights of the peasants. In their document, The Declaration of Rights of Peasants – Women and Man, they state:
A peasant is a man or woman of the land, who has a direct and special relationship with the land and nature through the production of food and/or other agricultural products. Peasants work the land themselves; rely above all on family labor and other small-scale forms of organizing labor. Peasants are traditionally embedded in their local communities and they take care of local landscapes and of agro-ecological systems.
The term peasant can apply to any person engaged in agriculture, cattle raising, pastoralism, handicrafts-related to agriculture or a related occupation in a rural area. This includes Indigenous people working on the land.
Did you know that almost half of the people in the world are peasants? Peasants are the representatives and caretakers of the old knowledge. I love how Zen Roshi Robert Aiken puts it in his haiku poem, I quoted a few emails ago:
Early on in my professional life I had the opportunity to live with the Yapese people—the indigenous people of the “Island of Stone Money”—Yap Atoll in the Western Pacific. It was a life changing experience for a city kid. The year was 1966. It was the beginning of the Green Revolution and the spread of industrialized agriculture “for the world’s benefit”. I had a bird’s eye view of the early thinking and promotion of these ideas, to supposedly modernize and feed the world’s starving masses. We unfortunately were the vanguard of the movement, bringing the concepts of pesticides, herbicides and chemical agriculture into then what was a pollution-free pristine Pacific. Ouch!
Here we are four decades later with a world of 800 million starving peasants. The Green Revolution has been a disaster in terms of feeding the world and in creating social equity for all—including the peasants of the world. And, what’s worse, we are in the midst of a new Green Revolution, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is led by the World Bank, IMF, The WTO, multinational corporations such as Monsanto and organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. How have we gotten so far off base? What has gone wrong?
It has been the arrogance fostered by modern reductionist science—thinking that our way of dissecting, and “reducing” the world into small parts, would produce or illuminate ultimate truths. However, viewing ourselves as somehow outside of nature, and only as observers (analyzers), relegates nature as something to overcome, to dominate and use as we see fit. Failing to see the error and blindness of our ways continues the destruction of our planet’s higher forms of life. Our job is to learn to see through a systemic lens, and appreciate the interconnection of all the parts of life’s ecosystems.
Our actions remind me of the emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Cloths”. Tricked by a pair of charlatan tailors, the Emperor was duped into riding in the parade without a stitch of cloths on—thinking all the time that he is dressed in beautiful robes. It took a child in the crowd to point out the obvious. Similarly, it is the peasants of the world who see clearly the folly of our modern industrialized ways—our divorce from nature. The snobbery engendered though our living an urban life, working as white collar professionals, achieving university degrees—while comparing ourselves favorably, in our own minds, to the “uneducated peasants” who, in our opinion, are stuck in their ways, old fashion, out of touch, and perhaps unintelligent. Many transnational corporations take this attitude even further by thinking of peasants as a means to provide cheap labor. Our discard for the peasant’s way is a reflection of our discard for nature. And, we are paying the heaviest of prices for this arrogance—that of our setting into motion the process of de-evolution.
Robert Aiken’s poem captures it perfectly; we label and dissect nature with our science but fail to listen to the whole symphony of nature’s creatures talking to us, wanting to teach us the way. The indigenous peoples and peasants of the world are closer to these truths.
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. The organization defends the values and the basic interests of its members. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other type of affiliation. Their members are from 56 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Via Campesina is a powerful force for setting our world right, with a membership of 300 million peasants worldwide.
Check out their website. Get to know what they are about. They are on the front line of a battle that we need to win for the diversity of life on this planet. The link above it will take you to their homepage. There is much to investigate. For example, on the right hand margin, click the link entitled—Support The Declaration Of The Rights Of Peasants On Line!- it will take you to a PDF document describing these rights. If you take the time to read it you will see how enlightened their movement is, and that their answers and ideas about solving the world’s hunger problem, social equity problem, and environmental quality problem are absolutely doable. Also on the right hand side is a link entitled, Combat Monsanto. This will lead you into the frontline of the battle.
On the left hand margin of the home page you will find a tab called Main Issues, which takes you to Via Compensina’s urging of us to mobilize ourselves for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Copenhagen on the 7th to 18th of December 2009, entitled Cool Planet. I write this as we are experiencing a historic heat wave in Seattle of over 105 degrees! And temperatures in the upper 90’s for several days. It feels like Phoenix in Seattle. These have been the hottest days in recorded history for this area.
The Via Compensina’s position is clear and strongly stated:
And about cultivating and storing seeds:
Aren’t these the things that we strongly agree are absolutely necessary? This website is chalk full of messages from the battlefront to save our planet. I hope you take the time to get to know Via Compesina. Sign up and let’s get involved.
Clinical Note: Therapeutic Foods whole food paradigm was born out of the realization that no matter how much we eat correctly, our environment has be corrupted to the point of needing concentrated nutrients that are food in nature. Read About Therapeutic Foods to think through your body’s requirement for therapeutic nutrients. We recommend the base of the Wild Blueberry Daily, High ORAC, Cranberry-Pomegranate and the Cruciferous Sprouts.
The Last Quiz Answer: This beautiful creature is an African desert locust. Probably the most notorious in terms of its very wide distribution. It is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances.
Read Dohrea Bardell’s research on: “The Privately Owned Local Businesses: The Hidden Bearer of the American Dream”. Getting back to local, private and sustainable business to build strong and connected communities.