Tonight, as I write for morning’s publication of the CFJC newsletter, workplace and airwave discussions of the Zimmerman verdict continue. Hopefully, a painful awareness of the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and so many others across the country can lead to action on social issues taken for granted or ignored for far too long.
And perhaps the fight for a full and fair Farm Bill would not be so crazy if as a country we were clear about our values on social issues in the first place.
Instead, today, for the first time in decades, a House Farm Bill does not include the nutrition title—food stamps and related programs.
Instead, we are asked by House leadership to trust they will address SNAP (food stamps) separately. This, from the policy makers who are trying to cut $20 billion or more from SNAP.
How did it come to this? That our society and legal system supports the killing of an unarmed 17 year old? That our Congress looks for cost savings by cutting food stamps for hungry families, but continues to fund agribusiness?
What in the name of anything you believe sacred are our values?
At CFJC we believe that access to healthy food is a basic human right.
Our values are based on equity first. Which means that a full and fair Farm Bill provides support for programs benefiting beginning and disadvantaged farmers, urban and rural communities, and families across the country.
It means that we believe family farmers deserve to make a living off the work they do to feed the rest of us.
It means that food and farm workers deserve to make a fair and living wage for the work they do to provide the food on our tables.
Our values are based on a belief that the common good is paramount in a healthy society. Among other things, this means that care for the environment is a duty that all of us share, and that public policy should reflect that belief.
Our values include the belief that immigration is responsible for the rich diversity that comprises our communities, and which we celebrate.
We believe that fear is not a national value, and that we should not be slave to legislation like the Patriot Act, or Stand Your Ground laws.
We believe that we the people have a duty, a responsibility, to participate in government, and we would argue that one reason we are in our current predicament is because too many of us have left government to the “professionals.”
Instead, we believe that democracy is not a spectator sport—that each of us is responsible, to hold accountable, our elected and appointed officials. This means we must participate more often than voting once every two or four years.
To be clear, at CFJC we believe there are heroic individuals working in government and in agencies, attempting to serve the public and common good. But we also believe that much of our government and institutions have been hijacked by an ideology that is systematically sabotaging the democratic process, and destroying an infrastructure and social safety net that took two hundred years to build.
We believe this must be stopped.
You are reading this newsletter because of your concern for many of the same issues and beliefs.
Now we are asking you to share your insights, your experience and knowledge, with your other circles.
If we are to collectively turn the country around, each of us have to take the first step—or in many cases, the next step.
Continue the Farm Bill discussions with your church group, or your social group, or your book club.
Continue the discussions about the Zimmerman verdict, and what we have to do to change our laws so that those who take the lives of our children are held accountable.
Support your local nonprofit groups that try to hold a safe space in which those discussions can take place.
Speak out, to the craziness that abounds, and the lies told repeatedly by talking heads on cable and main stream news media.
And yes, lend your support to CFJC so that we can continue to speak out for you and communities, in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
On behalf of all CFJC staff and volunteers, thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of your community, and of communities across the country.
And again, please, if you are at all able, click on this link to make a contribution to the Community Food and Justice Coalition, so that we can continue to work on your behalf.
Community Food and Justice Coalition