Farm Fair 2018

This weekend was the 56th Annual Hawaii State Farm Fair at Kualoa Ranch. Once again, we spent the whole weekend working it. We didn’t sell our papayas but donated it to be sold in the Farm Bureau ag tent. We passed out thousands of samples to many families.

As always, we get hit with anti-GMO activists here and there. This farm fair was a bit more prevalent than the last 2 years, which was odd. We had one lady drooling when she saw the slices of papaya, but then abruptly changed her mind when she saw the dreaded “GMO Story” on our booklet. While she rejected it, half a dozen little kids were chomping down on papaya. A few minutes later, she came back and took a slice and ate it to the skin.

Several other people saw the papayas asked if it was GMO. When we told them they were, they weren’t even nice and said, “I don’t want it then.” These folks did this in front of their kids displaying no manners. It was quite irritating. Other realized it was modified but thanks to photos of diseased fruit posted, I was able to start a conversation about it. Others were curious to learn the story joined in and asked questions.

I had many people saying that they thought GMO is dangerous. I asked them why and most could not articulate a reason other than saying they read it somewhere. Many of these folks were teachable and willing to learn. They simply lacked critical thinking skills and did not know how to find good information.

I did get the GMOs means pesticide bit too but easily walked them out through photos. It helped that the Department of Ag had a contest that made people seek out answers of the farming booths. By presenting a question, many did not know where to find the info. Great learning experiences happened through that.

I have to say that it wasn’t a surprise that the rejector of GM papaya went right to the food trucks. There were no organic food serving trucks and has never been at the fair ever. These folks think a fried lumpia is better than a slice of fresh papaya. Many were also wearing cotton clothes while saying no to GMO.

Several who expressed being afraid of pesticides had dyed hair and covered in tattoos. They inject synthetic inks into skin and apply it in their hair but fear Roundup. I’m simply amazed and saddened by the level of ignorance in people.

Politicians even came by to talk story. I reminded them that ag needs support in words and action, not pandering to the loudest activists. We need facts and more science to adapt to climate change or face devastation. We need tools to sustain us, no fear mongering attacks seeking to remove options. They nodded in agreement and hopefully will pull through but I have my doubts.

Despite the few rude anti-GMO activists, learning was happening this weekend. I’ve realized that those who tend to know the least but avoid GMOs are victims of heavy handed fear mongering campaigns. They’ve been deceived by what they read on the internet. All we can do is treat them fairly even though they cannot do the same.

Many people learned our story and why the technology is needed. They saw pictures of the disease and how farmers are hurt by it. The reasonable person can learn our story and hopefully share it with others to combat the fear against the very farmers they rely upon.

Hawaii cannot afford to be manipulated by outside influences. If farmers are to be successful, we need communities on board with our work. There is land to be cultivated and we need the people and communities supporting us.

If you want local food, you got to be supporting those who are working towards that goal.

The Humble Fruit Behind a Dream

The people of Hawaii love papayas. It is a major staple for generations of families here. Many consider it to be the equivalent of the banana on the breakfast table. If bananas were gone, few would know what could be a suitable replacement. That is the reason why the papaya was saved through technology for the people of Hawaii.

The papaya has also helped so many farming families stay in farming. The papaya ringspot virus ravaged so many farmers who were forced to change occupations. Once they stopped farming, many left those fields never to return.

My dad came so close to losing everything. He worked long hours at his day job then worked even more hours on the farm. He was determined to do both jobs to support the family. I only learned recently why he chose that path.

He knew that the farm held many life lessons of working together and staying focused on quality work. Those two values were taught to him by his father and mother. He wanted me and my siblings to learn that on the farm because it would stay with us forever.

Many times, the farm didn’t make money but we were told we had to work to support the family. We learned how to persevere through long hours and the beating hot sun. There was no giving up because people depended upon us. That lesson is stuck in my mind that nothing is as hard as the physical labor needed to grow food. As a result, I am always appreciative for what I have in my life.

My dad is living his dream by farming and seeing my brother learn the ropes. His hands are stiffening up at the end of the day and sometimes he has a sore back. I see him limping from time to time but it doesn’t stop him. He still goes on with his work and beams when happy customers send their appreciation for the fruits of his labor.

A farmer has raised a family on the farm and planted the seeds of success in his children. The farm has changed over the years through new ways of growing crops and using modern technology, but the lessons learned are the same. It takes a lot of hard work and grit to be a farmer. That lesson has to be passed on to each generation in order to sustain family farms.

The Hawaii papaya story has helped to sustain our family through 3 generations. This high tech fruit has fed millions of people for over 20 years. It is GMO technology feeding people!

People around the world can learn from what happened to us where we can rise up from devastation. One plant disease or major weather event can end a farmer’s livelihood. If we want more farmers being successful, we need to support the science that can help them reach those goals.

The Hawaii papaya story is one of hopes and dreams for future. If we had lost access to this technology, our family farm would be gone and only 2 generations would have experienced farming. Farmers’ success is dependent upon our ability to adapt and anticipate change. We can’t let fear block opportunities and stymie success.

Do we want people to succeed in life? Do we want generations to thrive? If so, we need to give people tools like food. Without food, the human potential will never reach its peak.

Let’s keep giving to people across the world. Keep speaking loudly about the Hawaii papaya story so they can benefit from it. A full life is what each and every human deserves.

Backbone

I work with elderly people as my day job. I see firsthand the effects of aging everyday. So many people tell me how they used be so tall and have lost several inches as they aged. Not only do I see people who have lost height, but I see people with severely bent over or curved spines.

The spine is the body’s support structure that keeps us upright and maintains how we function. Once there are permanent changes to this system, the person’s abilities is altered. The long term damage results in disability and suffering.

With the recent passage of the anti-pesticide bills in our legislature, I received messages and emails from certain legislators apologizing for voting for this. I was told that a no vote would not have mattered so they had to vote yes. I also was told that I didn’t understand the politics behind this passage. I appreciated the emails with the rationale but am very much saddened by the message sent with this vote.

I remember as a kid how honorable it was to visit a legislator at the State Capitol. It was like visiting a local celebrity when you’re 12. I saw them as great people and a leader to look up to. Fast forward to the present and I honestly have a hard time wanting to call several of them honorable.

In my mind, the legislators have a duty to the public to use resources wisely for all constituents. They are the backbone of our community who have chosen to lead people in the right direction. Unfortunately, the last 5 years have shown me otherwise.

Many leaders are abusing that spine with politicking and damaging the integrity of our communities. Instead of looking at the real issues around pesticides, they choose to listen to the DC lobbyists’ tales. The evidence shows homeowners misusing pesticides and even immigrant farmers not properly applying it. So instead of addressing these issues in a bill, they choose to ban a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, used in many sweet potato farms for killing weevil infestations. Who cares if this weevil can destroy up to 97% of their crops and there’s no evidence of misuse by them?!The politicians need to be a hero so forget consequences! They’ve attacked the most regulated user instead of the problem ones.

The message sent to the public gives the perception that farmers are the bad guys and legislators are flying in with the saviors to rescue us. I’d really appreciate a public education campaign to get homeowners educated since there’s more of them than farmers. The layperson fears farmers but don’t realize that their neighbor may be the real culprit.

With the recent incident where pesticides are being used to kill prawns in Hawaii streams, the environmental groups remain eerily silent on it. If they were to make noise about the pesticide usage by a layperson, it may start to get people thinking that farmers aren’t the only users! That would create curiosity about the claims made and likely chip at their credibility and fundraising.

By not standing tall for what is needed, our legislators have damaged their own credibility in my eyes. Many have written messages of support to me over the years. I no longer view them as honorable given the politics behind the passage. It is no wonder what many aren’t seen as up and up leaders. Their actions show us a person with no backbone to stand up for what is right. The public sees them as old crooked and bent people who can’t stand tall anymore. That image only gets worse each year and faith in our public servants go down.

When the want-to-be politician stopped at my house a few weeks ago, he gave me the “I support farmers” spiel but then plans on building a school on farm land. Then I asked him what he will do about the anti-pesticide issue should a law be passed. His idea was get parents to sign a waiver and everything will be fine. He was clueless about what was happening to agriculture!

No, Mr. Scot Matayoshi, as a lawyer, you should know that waivers like those are not going to work. A parent can’t sign away a child’s right and it’s simplistic to think that. Any new law that comes into effect can change the legality of the waiver. In a typical politician way, he talks the talk but operates from incorrect assumptions. Maybe that is why he is suited perfectly for Hawaii politics as he is another without a backbone. To tell me that he supports farms but intends to build on it is two-faced.

A long time ago, this is what Kaneohe looked like.

From a similar view, this is Kaneohe today, full of homes. I know that it’s inevitable development will happen. When farms are gone, they are gone forever. What farms are left are now battling for support of our leaders but getting little actual action. It’s a message that maybe farms are going to be gone sooner than we realize.

If the community wants farms, then we need leaders with a backbone now. When one has a straight backbone, one can functional at his maximal potential. If one allows their backbone to be attacked and bent, their appearance and function will be altered permanently. We need people willing to stand tall for what is right for once. Who will that be?

Our Connection to the Stars

Over a century ago, my great grandparents made a decision to leave China, Japan, and Okinawa. They left like so many others to a new and unfamiliar place way across the Pacific for future opportunities. I can only imagine what they envisioned as they made that journey.

Many left family behind in their homelands to seek a better way of living. My great grandparents traveled aboard a ship for weeks to get to Hawaii. I can only imagine what it was like to be captive on a board with hundreds of others going to an unknown place. Life must’ve been very hard and the only other opportunity was far away. I bet they sat in the darkness looking above at the stars hoping for a better life.

The ancient Hawaiians were probably thinking the same thing thousands of years earlier when they sailed the oceans looking up at the stars for guidance. The stars were guides for the people to build a new life in an unknown place. It was a constant symbol to people who undertook a journey across the Pacific.

For my family and the ancient Hawaiians, they both looked to the stars for a better life for their families. As I recall my own family history, I appreciate what they did for me over a hundred years ago. I know where they came from and the hardships they faced over the years. They made major sacrifices to give their children better opportunities, and for that I am forever grateful. I tell those stories to my children who reap the benefits of the sacrifices made so many years ago.

In this current day, people have forgotten to look up into the sky for guidance. The same stars that gave people a map of future travels is no longer of value to the modern day person. People would rather protest something under the guise of sacredness rather than see the need to grow a person’s capacity and potential through learning. Like the Hawaiians who stopped voyaging for 600 years, the modern day people are setting the stage to repeat that again by rejecting the curiosity that their ancestors valued. Hawai’i will be set back for years with the loss of the Thirty Meter Telescope should they choose another site.

I see the stars as a connection to my ancestors who also saw the constant light in the sky in a sea of darkness. I have dreamt that those glittering lights are bits of hope for the future.

It makes me very sad to see a young Hawaiian like Senator Kaialii Kahele adamant about stopping the Thirty Meter Telescope with his unscrupulous gut and replace lawmaking. It’s angering to see elite groups like the Center for Food Safety joining in on blocking this opportunity for an island faced with limited opportunities and poverty. The celebrations of activists blocking the telescope only signals a disregard of the stars that connect each and everyone of us to our ancestors.

The world is advancing in leaps and bounds which makes many fearful of what’s to come. We can hide in the dark and try to pretend that it’s not happening. My ancestors didn’t resist the change of moving forward. They got on that boat and sailed away with hope. They also planted hope in my grandparents and the next generation in my dad.

We won’t lose a piece of who we are because of technology if we remember our stories. That technology can help us remember and preserve our heritage and stories for decades to come. Each generation must know their personal histories to keep hopes and dreams alive. The elders carved a path for the future and we need to continue it and maintain that connection. Know who you are and where you came from for that is your roots to keep you grounded for the future. Honor our past to move us forward for the future.

Just Shut Up

The other day I was at the doctor’s office taking care of my sick kids. As I looked around, I saw several young babies being carried by moms and dads. It struck me that these tiny beings are so vulnerable to the terrible illnesses going around.

Then the other night at 1 am, my 7 year old woke up moaning about not feeling well. She was running a 104 degree fever and just miserable. To see your own child suffering and not being able to make her feel better is just heart wrenching. All I could do was call the 24 hour health line to find out we needed to go to the emergency room.

As I was driving there on the long stretch of empty highway, I started to go from sadness about my daughter to anger. My mind was screaming inside saying, “SHUT UP!”

Shut Up Anti-Vaxxers

Shut up to the anti-vaxxers who spread false information around the internet and other circles. I’ve seen so many sharing Natural News and Eat Healthy and Green kind of links filled with fear mongering stories on the “chemicals being pumped into kids” and how you want to shove it to “Big Pharma” and go natural.

Shut up naturopaths and homeopaths who tell people to do alternative vaccination schedules or skip vaccines altogether. When someone gets measles or some other preventable disease, it will be a real doctor with medicine that will save that child’s life and prevent more suffering. You’ll be forced to send your patient to a professional using science to health that child. Ironic ain’t it that you can give advice but won’t be the once saving a life?

Shut up celebrity doctors who dispense medical advice and then push your following to buy your products. To Dr. Oz, Dr. Axe, Dr. Hyman and other cranks, you’re not much better than a scam artist. Did you go to medical school to heal people or raid their wallets? Well, the truth is evident with your star power and huge mansions of extravagance.

Shut Up Environmental Savior

Extremists are viewed as threats to society but for some reason, they are acceptable when it comes to saving the earth. These are the ones who threaten crop destruction, have unrealistic ideology about farming, and are pompous as hell. For every activist who has been an internet extremist or led the charge of these radicals, just shut up already.

It’s been 20 years since the GM papaya has been grown and those radical ideas of agroecology curing the alleged failings of modern agriculture have resulted in what now? I haven’t seen any real evidence that this is viable for us in Hawaii. Even anti-GMO activist Felicia Cowden admitted that their agroecology study didn’t give the result they wanted, clearly showing that she doesn’t understand how science works. You don’t do a studyvto get a predetermined result! That’s anti-GMO science!

To the leadership from the likes of former County Council Member Gary Hooser and even former Representative Jessica Wooley, when faced with the hateful behavior of your followers, you chose to ignore it and make as if it never happened. Do you not have to courage to see right from wrong?

When faced with the threats of crop destruction made by the activists, Hooser said nothing publicly acknowledging it and condemning it. His silence appeared to actually show that he supported this behavior.

The same applies to Rep. Wooley when I told her activists were trashing produce at the farmers’ market because it wasn’t organic, she acted surprised. She played it off like nothing and gave an insincere apology. She even lied blatantly to the public saying there’s no regulation in biotech which is why it needed to be labeled. When shown evidence, she was forced to recant it clumsily. Had she been honest the first time, she wouldn’t have appeared so foolish. Liars need to just shut up and shut their extremists up too.

She even participated with the extremists, the Babes Against Biotech and the Center for Food Safety’s Andrew Kimbrell. Extremists see only concocted “problems” but avoid the real ones.

Wooley helped to bring Andrew Kimbrell of CFS to Hawaii to fundraise for his “non-profit.” Think any monies went to the allegedly harmed people who they used? Nope. Nothing.

These activists are given the idea they have power and that they can do whatever they need for the cause. They capacity is impaired to realize the consequences after it’s too late. Case in point is the hateful stuff posted on the internet. I collected all of it with names and faces on their profiles because they need to be held accountable for it. People told me not to repost it and I said no, because their words and faces need to be seen by their peers. We can’t pretend this was not happening.

What was the result of this? These people shut up. They stopped with their hateful commentary when reasonable peers saw it. It’s called being accountable for your words and actions. You said it, you take responsibility for it.

Shut Up Reporters wanting Balance

Last week I listened to a panel of reporters talking about the fishing industry. As I listened, one of the recurring themes that came up was “balanced” reporting. Basically, the other side has to have a say. This is almost like ‘everybody needs a trophy’ mentality.

I really dislike this idea in the age where we are supposed to be fighting against fake news. How many stories about farms have we heard the opinion of a political spinner and professional activist, Ashley Lukens, give her take? Why does her opinion have to be part of the story? She acts as if she speaks for the rural community with her expensive clothes and accessories. No one ever reports that she is part of a million dollar, organic industry non-profit.

Ashley, like Jessica, have no problem being openly dishonest to the public and never correcting their deceit. While they talk farming, they’ve actually caused decreased productivity when farmers have to spend years defending their work. Both need to shut up or tell the truth about their outright lies and emotional manipulation.

Shut up with romanticizing about the old ways

One thing that really gets to me is those who talk about supporting farmers but then do something that’s shows the complete opposite of that. Listening to politicians talk makes me sick lately. It’s no wonder we keep calling them politicians and not leaders.

If we want to be feeding our own people, we need to foster and guide people to those opportunities. Right now, those feeding us have been painted as the enemy to the environment. The public is told that farmers are careless and need buffer zones and disclosures. They are also told that we are destroying the aina. Little do people realize that my dad was a part of the Waiahole Waikane Community Association that fought to keep development out. Yes, a farmer helped to save the country.

What’s sad is that those in the community perceive his farm as a threat because we adopted technology. Farmers have always evolved to do things better and smarter. That’s how they survive and sustain themselves. This is their livelihood and not a hobby.

Farmers are dwindling in number and it is of no surprise given the attacks launched against them. It gets me mad when someone tells me that their garden is no different from a farm so that is how a farmer should do things. Others think that by having kids work the land will foster more farmers. Simple solutions never work for complex issues. Wanting to go back to the old ways isn’t going to help us move forward.

Some people think just getting kids in a taro patch or a garden is going to foster more farmers. It’s great to have kids grow things but farming is much more than that. It’s a business and needs some science too. The romantic idea pervades the conversations around growing farmers but can’t be leading the plan. It had to be based in reality.

My husband learned first hand that the romantic ideal doesn’t match the reality that so many people talk about. It hit him like a semi that farming wasn’t easy and he quit. So to those clamoring for the old days of farming, shut up already or prove that’s it’s a viable way of living in the current situation at hand.

Stop letting your ignorance spread

I’ve been cranky because I’ve been dealing with 2 sick kids and me being sick. I can’t imagine not having modern medicine and trained professionals to help make people feel better and regain health. If it was back in the old days that so many people miss, my kids would be suffering and could’ve potentially suffered serious harm from the flu without intervention. Don’t go telling me you want less chemicals in your body but grab the acetaminophen when you get a headache.

Operating on faulty information is harmful as we are seeing with a resurgence of preventable diseases. That little meme you shared celebrating avoiding chemicals in your food has a ripple effect. It gives a simple heuristic for people to utilize in the quest for health but that piece of misinformation encourages acting in fear and emotion. That person becomes prone to fear based decision making and encourages politicians to listen to these folks.

Society starts to accept the false information as truth and that’s a problem for us as a whole as we start to devolve into confusion and emotion. When this happens, finding common ground is nearly impossible. People stop being able to talk to each other when one works from a false assumption and rejects history and facts.

Shortcut thinking always lands up hurting someone along the way. The pervasive fondness of going natural is a danger that few recognize. Rejecting modern medicine and science is hurting the most vulnerable. Thinking that farming the old way grows more farmers gives future farmers a shock when they realize what’s needed to be successful in the current climate.

I really wish that the loud noise makers would shut up and stop bending the ears of fickle politicians looking for job security. How much time and resources must be wasted catering to the squeaky wheels? People don’t want to vote because it’s only the loudest that get the ears of politicians. The behind the scene pulling of strings to keep leadership happy and play out cards is disgusting. The electorate get into office and stand for nothing, literally nothing that benefits the local people.

Let’s keep it going politicians with the efforts going to banning everything instead of looking for harder solutions to bigger problems. The public will thank you for those foam container gone only to find their takeout food is more expensive. The land will be healthier without plastics while abandoned cars and cesspools are all over the community affecting water and health of our soil. People celebrated the pedestrian crosswalk law to protect them but now we have more people being hit by cars than before. We have a law to stop homelessness but the numbers are increasing and spreading into the suburbs. Politicians were so eager to ban GM foods but the same ones tried to legalize raw milk! Another one wants to fund vaccine injury studies, which are already done by the CDC, while mumps cases rise to several hundreds endangering the most vulnerable. There’s talk about doubling food production but people are wanting to build on land that could help support the effort through research.

We were told by politicians that they will make a better Hawaii. Have each and everyone of them actually fulfilled that promise? Honestly, I’m sick of those promises. It’s no wonder people don’t vote. To all of the incumbents and prospective ones repeating meaningless promises, shut up and put out first.

Narcissists

My friend Chuck Lasker has always said that the entire anti-GMO/organic movement is narcissistic in nature. I agreed but never really looked up what narcissism really meant in terms of a psychology concept. Now that I’m dealing with my own personal issue living with a narcissist, I now have a clearer understanding of what Chuck meant.

Narcissists have no empathy for others and that is evident in the anti-GMO and even the anti-TMT movement. When asked what alternative do they give if they get a ban, they have nothing to offer. I’ve asked countless activists what do they give papaya farmers if they take away this technology. They usually give the cop out of saying the farmers must go organic. We all know that organic was tried with no getting over the ring spot virus.

When I’ve asked activists what monies and opportunities will they give when the Thirty Meter Telescope is blocked, they just scream sacredness! They can’t even see the needs in the community and why Hawaii needs a diversified economy. These people prefer to revel in their selfies and hashtags of #wearemaunakea but have nothing to return to improve people’s lives.

I’ve even seen well-fed activists here demanding that Golden Rice be banned while they state that giving carrots are a better solution. These folks have never experienced under nutrition or malnutrition but give the developing countries a “solution” without any consideration of why that simple one doesn’t work there. The irony is that activists claim to be for social justice but deny those who need a technology.

The new trend of clean eating is yet another example of narcissism pervading society. People proudly profess how they eat with beautiful images of food. It’s like boasting that there is clean or good food and everything else is bad. If you’re eating the “bad” food, you’re made to feel lesser of a person.

The selfish boasting of “I only eat organic” is yet another elitist attitude about food. One of the afterschool program leaders told me that she tries to buy organic because she heard it’s better and felt bad when she couldn’t afford to. I explained to her that she should not feel bad about the groceries she buys because we have such an abundant and safe food supply. There’s no shame in buying regular food that one can afford. I encouraged her to save money and buy what she can afford. Feeling guilty is succumbing to unscrupulous marketing strategies.

Narcissists really have no regard for their impact upon others. That’s especially true when the activists proudly tout crop destruction of job losses of their neighbors. These activists will lie straight to anyone who listens and make multiple false accusations with no regards to facts. Even when called out, these self-centered folks can’t even recognize how bad they look saying horrible things. The fact that they encourage more bad behavior and don’t condemn it is evidence of how cruel and uncaring this movement really is.

Hollywood stars and celebrities jumping into the issue and posing as “experts” is even more reflective of the narcissism pervading the anti movement. I find it ironic that these activists accuse me of seeking fame and fortune for speaking out for biotechnology, when the reality is that these few years have cost me lots of money and I’m not making anything for fighting for our farm. Meanwhile, the Food Babe is busy selling new products, the Center for Food Safety’s Ashley Lukens is asking for donations along with the HAPA’s Gary Hooser for their non-profits. I’ve not seen a single penny go towards helping people who have been harmed as they claim. Nothing goes back to the community that they claim to be saving.

A narcissist can’t understand that their actions and words have impacts upon others. They think they are free of consequences of their words. People like this do not care about that farmer’s success and whether or not he or she can provide for a family. They don’t care about the community when they talk about it but really have no proof of actually improving it. They don’t put their hands to work to grow a crop that provides food for the community. Once again, there is talk but nothing of substance offered.

The self-centered, reactionary nature of being anti is very selfish. It’s all about them, their selfies, me, me, me. “Let me say anything I please because I don’t care how it makes anyone else feel.” It doesn’t matter if it invites others to threaten people too. Here we tell kids not to bully others, and the activists do they very thing to those trying to educate. They’ve become the “look at me” kids on the playground.

So to the politicians surrounding yourself with the antis, Sen. Josh Green, Sen. Russell Ruderman, Rep. Kaniela Ing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and former Rep. Jessica Wooley, you represent the lowest of the low in people. They thrive on celebrating ignorance and dividing communities. History has shown what these politicians do when the come to power.

They take advantage of fear and use it to rile up the public and shut down critical thinking. People become irrational and act without considering the consequence of their actions. Not only is one’s ignorance taken advantage of, but using the least emotionally intelligent is yet another tactic of the anti activists.

This was an unsolicited message from an anti-activist the other day. He read my community voice on Civil Beat and immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was about Monsanto. I countered him rationally and as cowards usually act, he tries to intimidate via a private message. It’s downright pathetic that there are adults who are acting like playground bullies.

Self-centered, power hungry politicians take note because intolerance is not popular and never was acceptable. When you lead with your egotistical aspirations, your followers reflect it. It’s time for rational, fact based discussions instead of manipulation of emotions. Our communities deserve some healing and some semblance of sanity.

Just Be Quiet

When the anti-GMO activists started up on the social media back in 2013, something in me drove me into action. I started off very cautiously with where I’d put my comments. The first place I ventured into was the online news site, Civil Beat.

I was pretty naive as to what my comments would do in there. Little did I realize that it led to dogpiling by the anti-GMO activists. Before long, people started to know me on there and I became labeled as a shill or a troll. The nightly ritual of combatting the misinformation there soon landed me a phone call from my dad.

My sister had told him I was commenting online and it would jeopardize our farm and family name. He called me up with my mom beside him and told me to stop what I was doing. In his voice, I didn’t hear a lot of confidence in what he was saying since he didn’t know much about the social media. As an obedient daughter, I listened and said okay.

I knew that something big would unfold from this movement and affect our farm. I changed my online name to avoid being seen as a Kamiya, as a request of my dad. My profile name became Joni Rose for the next several years. I couldn’t stop from wanting the truth to be heard.

I think about those times now and wonder what would’ve happened if I had quit speaking up. Would things have been better without our say in the social media war zone? From the environment it’s at now, my gut instinct says speaking up has changed the tone and helped to empower others to speak out.

Too many times, we are told to be quiet and say nothing because it will pass. To me, that’s like sticking one’s head in the sand and being willfully ignorant of the realities. Just let it pass and talk amongst yourselves to solve the problem! I’ve found it simply isn’t effective.

Years ago, women had to just take the cat calls and harassment from men because that’s just what men do. By not saying anything, it was helping to keep a man of stature from being embarrassed. If a woman did speak out, she was torn to shreds for “deserving it.”

It is the same when it came to domestic violence, where women were pretty much told to be quiet or you’ll embarrass the man. I was once a victim of domestic violence and felt ashamed to have to talk about it because it was acceptable for a man to lose his temper. I was dismissed for calling it out and it must’ve been my fault. I felt powerless against getting away from this until a friend told me that I should just leave, which is what I did.

Too many times, we are told to just be quiet about things. Don’t say anything bad about your husband because you shouldn’t embarrass him is yet another thing I’ve been told. If he loses his temper just keep it to yourself. If he doesn’t help you just talk to him and he will change. After 10 years, I’ve realized that talking doesn’t convert to action. So my next plan was speaking up openly about it. I could no longer hide from the realities.

Initially, this plan caused a lot of friction because once again, I was embarrassing him. My own family members said don’t say anything. Even friends said don’t say anything, just work it out behind closed doors. I am at a breaking point where closed door talks became a blamefest at me. I could no longer take it at all.

Apparently to many, this was just shocking to hear. We all like the image of a happy family and happy couple. When you hear otherwise, it really changes that idea and almost causes cognitive dissonance. No, I do not have a perfect life and marriage and I can no longer live in an altered reality. The truth is sometimes unpleasant.

What became clear to me was that I wasn’t alone. So many friends started to speak up via messages about their own marriages and frustrations. I saw a different reality behind those smiling photos of a life just like mine. I wasn’t alone.

The more I spoke our openly on my observations and frustrations, others commented on how they too saw the same issues. What my husband thought was okay became a reality that what he chose to do wasn’t okay. This eventually has led to a major behavior shift that losing one’s temper wasn’t acceptable. The temper tantrums have decreased and we are getting along much better as a result. It’s not perfect but I’m demanding for change and won’t stop until it happens. The only way for someone to change is to recognize the issue. It is a painful process but that is life.

Sometimes people don’t want to hear what you have to say but if you speak with truth, truth will prevail. Many will discourage you to speak the truth to hide the ugly reality but it will come out. Change can only happen when it’s recognized and someone has to take the big step of speaking up.

If you have something to say, say it. If you’re dealing with mental illness, talk about it. Times are changing where more people need to stand up for themselves in truth.

We are humans and our lives aren’t perfect. Once you speak up, you may find a wonderful community of support willing to help you find peace.