Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Two Great Issues of Our 20th Century

Can you find the monarch (black and yellow) butterfly?



Some years ago it became clear to me that the two issues we must resolve in these times, if we are to survive as a human race, are: (1) understanding and accepting all other human beings on our planet.
It means welcoming diversity, changing hatred to love.  Then (2): taking care of our earth’s environment.  We must stop poisoning, deliberately, or through carelessness, our air, water, and earth, or we die.  Call it climate change or what you will.  We are ourselves, by our polluting habits, destroying the earth, our human home, making it harder every year to grow food, be healthy, live without fear of violent storms, lack of water, inadequate protection from whimsical heat waves and devastating cold.

In the books I have written and am now publishing, all of them, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, you will find these themes, these concerns.  Beaver Soul (now due out early September) is about discovering that the Cold war enemies I never questioned as a child, are human beings.  The first Russian I met in 1989, Mayor Korobov, so impressed me in our five-minute conversation through an interpreter, that I later told everyone I met: “The Russians are friendly!”

In the early 90s I made several trips to Russia, 1990, 92, and 95, and I hosted Russian writers here in 1992 and 93.  Beaver Soul records my early experiences, discovering new, dear friends in Russia.

Farm Fresh and Fatal takes up the issue of genetically modified seeds (GMO).  At the time I wrote it, I was only beginning to learn how scary food grown the GMO way was for human consumption. The seeds have been modified two main ways: (1) to protect the plant against weeds so the farmer can spray Roundup (weed-killer) and it won’t hurt the plant.  Then (2) to protect the plant from insects, the seeds are modified so that insects that eat the plants develop leaks in their stomachs and die.  This means, for human beings, that the GMO food we eat carries traces of Roundup and also can cause our stomachs to leak undigested food particles.  This sets off allergies.  Most corn, soy, sugar (from sugar beets), wheat, and rape (which gives us canola oil) is grown from GMO seeds.  90% of North Carolina’s crops are GMO.  The only completely “safe” food is now that which is grown organically.  

Furthermore, our local electric companies (Duke Power now owns all of them) and the local, largely rural co-ops which get their electricity from Duke) use Roundup under power lines to kill young trees and other vegetation.  This poison goes into our groundwater, and it affects pollinators.  Honey bees themselves don’t die when they visit flowers that have been sprayed with Roundup, but they take the poison back to their hives, and it gets into the honeycomb and soon the bees abandon their hives, and not in the usual way, with a new queen, so more honey bees are lost.  They aren’t our only pollinator, but they’re a main one.

Last time Roundup was sprayed across the road from me, I noticed fewer bees and pollinators in my flower garden.  I wrote to Central Electric Membership Corp complaining. No answer.  Recently I learned I could get no-spray signs from them to erect across from my house, so I went to their headquarters in Sanford and signed a paper and got two signs to put up.  Right now my backyard flower garden is full of honey bees, bumble bees, miscellaneous wasps, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.  I don’t want to lose them.  My vegetables and fruit trees need all possible pollinators.
We all need to work on taking care of our earth and its people.  I have a bumper sticker on my truck: Celebrate Diversity.  Let’s do it.  No time like the present to begin, especially since our now Republican-dominated legislature in N.C. is going the wrong way in these already difficult times, repealing good environmental legislation, and working toward fracking, an environmental disaster for our state, as well as attacking voting rights, unemployment, Medicaid–an all-out attack against poor people, and especially against African Americans.  It will take determination, courage, and ingenuity to get us into a healthy, safe twenty-first century, and I hope my books help.  That’s why I wrote them.

Beaver Soul will be available in early September.  To buy ahead and have it shipped: $14.50 (includes tax) to Judy Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559-0253; to buy and pick up: $12.

Farm Fresh and Fatal will also be available for pre-sales in September (Oct 1 is pub date): to buy ahead and have it shipped: $20 (includes tax); to pick up,$17.

No comments:

Post a Comment