Senator Brian Schatz clearly has a lot of money in his coffers because I hear his radio commercial nearly 6 times during my commute around town, Kaneohe, and to Waikane. I keep hearing that he’s touting “Hawaii values of civility and a cooperative attitude.” I’m skeptical of that claim for several reasons.
I was at the State Capitol the other day in support of the fishermen. Behind the crowd stood 3 individuals far removed protesting at the rally. They weren’t interested in learning what leaders like Governor Ariyoshi, Senator Akaka, OHA’s Peter Apo, and several other Hawaiian civic group presidents had to say about it. They stood there holding up their signs referring to the quotas. (Oddly, the proponents of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine monument have stated that this wasn’t about closing fishing down but then all carried signs attacking fishermen.) These people clearly weren’t about coming to the table to work with groups affected by this decision. It was their way or no way and their actions show that they want no concessions. That tells me that Schatz is disingenuous about this value of cooperation.
Not only did the protesters there show none of the values stated in Schatz’s radio commercial, but the infamous, Chelsea Lyons Kent, also demonstrated the lack of the value he calls for: civility. Her flipping of the bird on national TV as part of Hawaii’s delegates to the DNC and the lack of an apology for it shows no civility.
Chelsea hasn’t been one of civility for sometime as she has marched with the most disrespectful bunch of women before, the Babes Against Biotech. (Remember that the BABs told me that she’d leave the papaya farmers alone. That was a complete lie.)
She even asked people to fund her trip to the DNC to represent Hawaii and received quite a sum of money to go. One person who supported her to represent Hawaii is none other than the anti-GMO candidate running in my district, Patrick Shea. He gave this “representative of Hawaii” some money too!
We should not forget who else has been associated with these people either, but my congressional representative, Tulsi Gabbard. Both she and Schatz touted this conspiracy based “Monsanto Protection Act” to the people of Hawaii.
So what’s wrong with all of this?
One is a reflection of their associations and what’s said by one reflects upon the entire group, whether you like it or not. By choosing to spread misinformation against GMO technology, Gabbard and Schatz, have promoted their message. It appears fine and dandy to share memes and feel good about fighting this so called “evil.” The problem is you’re spreading it to people who have little to no real understanding of the issue and it turns these people fearful to the point of being irrational. When one is irrational due to fear, they can no longer learn or process a rational discussion.
That irrational behavior showed up at our farm yesterday in Punaluu. A caucasian woman came up to my dad as he was working on the field and started yelling at him that he was poisoning her. She apparently lives up the street from the farm and had seen them spraying the trees. He had been spraying sulfur to protect it from disease and insects. She wouldn’t listen to him and insisted that he was harming her. She became even more outraged to the point that she destroyed two of his trees right in front of him. Being that it was late, nearly 5 pm and there was still harvesting to be done, he was shocked by it. What’s even worse is that my 13 year old nephew had to witness his papa being verbally abused by this woman too. (A police report will be filed against this woman for what she has done since she has made accusations against our farm before several times but never destroyed property.)
Those papayas still had to be processed and packed and everyone had to work well past dinner to get it out for tomorrow’s deliveries. It didn’t help that the Punaluu field had been blocked off because of a water main break either back on Monday when it’s usually picked.
My heart is just aching inside from seeing the destruction of local ways and values that politicians only talk of but don’t seem to exemplify. Bad behavior and a lack of accountability by leaders and news sources are not helping anyone. Between the attention given to the anti-GMO groups like Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and the Pesticide Action Network, each of these groups purge out evidence-less claims that the media outlets like Civil Beat and even the Star Advertiser have amplified. When I saw the attacks unfolding against the seed companies several years ago, I already knew that it would trickle down to us as farmers, which has happened. Politicians like Senator Schatz and Representative Tulsi Gabbard have pandered to the “environmental” industry and a public that’s so far detached from farming to promote themselves at the expense of farmers and others who feed Hawaii.
My dad is limping with a torn calf muscle at the age of 74 but he still puts on that backpack sprayer to take care of his crops in the sweltering 95 degree heat. He also sits on a tractor for hours on end to get his papayas picked. He plows the fields and transplants seedlings one by one. He drives a big rig truck to haul tractors between fields to get it harvested. He even moves 400 lb bins on and off roller to get the papayas processed. He is washing those fruits to ensure cleanliness and compliance with the Food Safety and Modernization Act. He lifts hundreds of boxes of 25 lb and 50 lb boxes of fruit several days a week. After that, he helps deliver them to all the people who rely on him for their weekly fruit staple. Not only does he work like a dog, my brother too works along side him. If anyone epitomizes the value of hard work, it’s anyone who works on a farm and makes it their livelihood.
A politician can work from a clean, air conditioned, cushy office day in and day out. He can talk farming but if he can only do that, he doesn’t speak for farming. Farming is the oldest occupation in the world that changed society. If it weren’t for a farmer, there would be no politician. Like I told the anti-GMO political candidate, Patrick Shea, don’t talk farming to a farming family. Come down and work on the farm and then let’s talk there, while you’re working with us.
Real leaders go to the source to learn and encourage others to learn. During this election season, be sure to look at your leader and see that he or she is setting the example for others to learn and foster learning. Learning is what will help establish collaboration and lay the foundation the future for our keiki and their keiki. We are all a part of a community and communities help each other and isn’t it about time we start to heal our bonds?