“How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look…”

by Katie Pizzuto on January 19, 2009

in Agribusiness

martin-luther-king2I was one of those people that, for years, was taken in by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I read countless books about the disastrous day, and even labored through a copy of transcripts from The House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation, looking for answers I’d never find. And what I’ve learned is that sometimes we don’t need answers. Sometimes, NOT knowing is liberating, because it allows us the freedom to move forward unfettered by the shackles of fear. When we were young we did things that were far riskier and dangerous than what we do today, because we weren’t bound by the knowledge of what might happen to us—we were clueless.

What could we do with our futures right now were we not crippled by fear? How differently would we make our decisions and set our goals if they weren’t continually thwarted by the voice in our head that says, “no fucking way, you nut job!” On the eve of the presidential inauguration, I wonder how much Obama listens to that voice as well. My hope is that if he does hear it from time to time, he will silence it. Otherwise, our agriculture (and the legislative bodies that regulate it) will not get the change it so desperately needs.  Otherwise, many Americans will lose faith in their ability to change the course their country’s on. Otherwise, it’ll just be, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” My hope is that he puts on the gloves and takes on industrial agribusiness, like a kid with no comprehension of gravity would climb a tree. But my hopes are tempered by our past—ain’t that a kick in the ass.

The immortal Martin Luther King gave breath to these words in 1967, in protest of the quagmire in Vietnam, but I use them here in protest of the existence of entities like ConAgra. Ironically enough, in the 1960s, the US Congress received more letters from citizens concerned with animal welfare issues than letters concerning civil rights and the Vietnam War, so the words seem more than appropriate right now:

“I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”

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