Building a Better Community Means Working Together

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I’m attending the BIO Conference this week to help share the story of how biotechnology helped to save my dad’s papaya farm. Many know the stories but have not met the faces of those who have seen it in action. The papaya story is truly a great one about how small farmers are able to use this technology to be sustainable. I took some of vacation time from my real job to attend this opportunity since I see the value in sharing my dad’s story.

As I was walking around outside of the convention area, I naively kept my name tag on. Pretty soon, someone in our group noticed and reminded us newbies to put them away. Apparently, there are paid activists around who will rip tags off to create an inconvenience for conference attendees.

I thought about it more and realized how sad that people do this to others. Here as kids, we are taught to get along with others and treat each other with respect to maintain a civil community. Then as adults we are fine with forgetting that very important lesson. There is something very wrong with that indeed.

On the plane ride here, in my boredom, I had several thoughts about this issue and wrote this piece down after seeing the repetitive rehash of the “multinational chemical companies poisoning” us rhetoric.

We are lucky to live in a free and safe society. Whenever have to worry about going out of our door and being shot or attacked. We are free to go about our lives with little worries and care. It’s something we all take for granted… Peace and civility.

However, that sense of peace and well being has been compromised by several individual leaders. These people have decided to take the liberty of using the public’s ignorance and use heavy handed fear tactics to tear apart our communities. Forget facts and evidence because it means nothing in the face of pure ideology. This ideology of being poisoned by a huge multinational chemical corporation has become center stage completely void of logic, reasoning, and anything factual at this point.

The very leaders who should be using the scientific evidence to guide policy have seem to prefer a role of a community detractor. Yes, when a leader leans to the side of ideology, they are no longer the person who wants to build our communities up. We now have families split apart, neighbors and fellow community members at odds with each other. Although we don’t have to worry about being a victim of war, the agricultural communities are at war.

Haven’t we already learned from history that ideology and public opinion can lead us down a very dangerous path? Remember the civil rights movement where blacks were discriminated against and labeled as an inferior class of people? What about FDR’s decision based on public opinion to intern the Japanese people? What about the hatred and misinformation campaigns against gay people that led to years of hatred and violence toward them? In each case, there was no evidence used to take such action, just opinion and ideology. The very people targeted suffered for years unnecessarily because of the leaders caving to opinion.

They very people demanding that Hawaii go GMO free are just sideliners listening and absorbing opinions off the Internet. These people are not able to read and interpret scientific studies let alone conduct them. Very few if anything have run long time farms and businesses, but the leadership prefers to take their words as fact, leaving the long time ag community supporters shocked.

In a time when we as a world need to look at a basic right for all, the ones with the least to lose stands to harm a very viable option for the most vulnerable. We have become the targets if a ideological movement that stands to have major repercussions across the world. Have we become blinded to the needs of others all in the name of fear? The simple answer is yes and it’s awfully depressing.

At a critical juncture to help build up Hawaii’s food security and sustainability, we have all lost focus on that goal. It’s now about defending livelihoods instead of working on the greater goal. In the first time in our history, a vocal minority has decided to perpetuate this war and keep people from working together. Remember that each action one takes or doesn’t take has unintended consequences that most average thinkers are not able to anticipate.

If we as the public want more local food, then we’d better put down the ideological arguments and seek the truth and use evidence and facts to move towards those goals. You can either be part of the problem or help be a part of the solution. If you plan to be a critic and detractor and offer nothing on the table, get out of the way.

I want a world of peace, honesty, and integrity for my children and other children around the world to grow up in. This is the future I hope and strive for. We are all apart of the world’s community and are contributors to it whether we like it or not and we’d better start thinking like that.

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