Don’t bite the hand that feeds 

ART_PENABRANCA
art:penabranca

The idiom- “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, makes it quite hard to criticise and step away from a system created by colonial conquest and operating under a capitalist model. A political and economic system that continues to oppress people and sabotage the natural world in order to increase the wealth of a minority elite, who also have the power to make policies which ensure they remain in their positions and that the people they represent go on controlled and passive. A system that has deliberately corporatised our food, water, mineral resources and land.

We criticise the system and want nothing more than for it to change, yet we are too comfortable within it to make the changes in our own lives first. Changes that would have the effect of transferring power from the hand that feeds us into our own. Yet we are still happy to support the expansion of private, mono-culture agri-business so we can keep eating our privilege in the form of non-seasonal, unnatural food. We are still happy for the majority of Sydney’s power to come from coal stations but we huff and puff that Adani is set to go ahead. Yes, most of that coal is going to be exported but the environmental effects would only be marginally better if it was kept within Australian borders. We barely challenge the fact that our water is owned by a private corporation, as long as it’s flowing from our taps with minimal effort required on our part, we don’t question the ethics of this arrangement. We have grown up to value bright lights and extraordinary comforts without questioning their true costs. We love instant gratification and have no respect for the seventh generation ahead. It hasn’t always been like this and we must try to remember the not to distant past when our ancestors lived much more ethical lifestyles.

Unfortunately, in our daily lives and consumer choices we continue to shirk off the responsibility of providing for ourselves and expect that other people are going to provide food, shelter and clothing for us, in exchange for money which circulates through the Australian economy as the result of a bloody invasion, the exploitation of natural resources and ever increasing debt. How are we going to change this if we continue to support it with the lifestyles choices we make? If we continue on the current trend of ever increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, how do we expect things to change?

To become sovereign and create a new society in which the nation state is no longer the centre of power and each person is autonomous, free to make their choices and held accountable by the people around them, we have to start taking drastic responsibility of our own lives first. We need to be really thinking and working towards providing food for ourselves, even by choosing to support local producers and eating seasonal, you’ve already started to make progress. The global food system only benefits those who have have access to imported foods while polluting the environment and taking advantage of poorly paid labourers in distant countries. Food transported over great distances is also more vulnerable to spoilage, more likely to be enhanced using preservatives and colours, is exposed to price fluctuations due to reliance on fossil fuels, and is more likely to be expensive than food produced locally (Paul and Haslam McKenzie 2011). Domestic and local are not the same thing, especially on this continent.

Being reliant and dependent on unstable systems is definitely not a characteristic of a progress, intelligent society. Likewise, we need to seriously question the ethics of the urban living arrangement. Does it provide for all people equally or are you only living comfortably if you have access to a job and income? Can parents afford to be present and emotionally available for their children if they have to work 40 hours a week to provide for their family? Is it good for our nervous systems to have such little nature around us and be overloaded with unnatural sounds, breathing in toxins and living in spaces built with harmful chemicals?

I imagine an alternative in which people are living in a less densely populated arrangement, a village for example. Everyone has their own place, their own piece of land that they steward and are responsible for. This part of Earth that you care for, also cares for you, sustaining you and your family. The hand that feeds you is your OWN and you have power and controll over the quality and ethics of what you consume. You’ve built yourself or hired local builders (keeping the profit circulating and strengthening the local economy), to construct a space for you to live in. A beautiful, comfortable house made from resources found in the area. Not a primitive dwelling but a well designed, innovative home that reflects your own personality not the one of a contracted developer and architectural company. Your own flavour has gone into this space, it’s got your spirit in it and it truly feels like your home. Yes, right now we need money and capital to do that. But the goal should be setting up a way of life for our children and future relations, that doesn’t depend on capitalism or extortion of the earth and other people.

We gotta get with the times if we want to keep humanity on the planet. And I think we should stay on Earth. It’s quite a special place and we’ve evolved this far, let’s see to what unexplored heights we can expand into. Not literally of course, we need less skyscrapers and more people touching the earth with mindful hands. I can see that the times call for being radical, to change the fundamental nature of the system. It’s not enough to point the finger of blame and anger from the safety of progressive political movements that still depend on the current organisation of things to arrange food and resource access. We need to expand the conversation to these issues much more seriously. How can we stop waiting around for corrupt politicians and greedy corporations to wake up and instead, as enlightened individuals who care about equality and the future, work more seriously towards uniting amongst ourselves – in our families and local communities, to become self-reliant and not dependent on the source of our unhappiness to keep us fed, clothed and sheltered?

We’re all doing the best that we know how to during these absurd times. For all the brave spirits questioning the accepted norms and engaged in the issues of our times, thank you. I just encourage us to keep encouraging each other to do even better, to expand on what our best is. To inspire one another to be more aware and conscientious of our responsibilities. A little bit of pressure motivates momentum. In a respectful way we can acknowledge that we all have unique callings and engage in different things but what unites us all is our basic needs for food, water and shelter. If we do not work out an ethical and sustainable way to have these needs met, we perish and our other efforts our redundant. As one very wise, heart-centred woman by name of Maya Angelou said – “ We may encounter many defeats but we must not defeated.” And indeed, we must rise to the occasion, expand the conversations and start with making our own lives truly virtuous first.


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