The so-called "right" to food is fine if it means I have a right to eat. If
it means that big brother must feed me, it is not a right it is an obligation
on society regardless of circumstances. If you come by my place and say your
are hungry, I'm likely to feed you. (Not that I'll tell you how to FIND my
place.) Then I'll invite you to work off your meal. If you refuse, don't
Before you crank up the flame throwers, make note of these facts.
1) I myself have suffered serious undernutrition, though it was not purely
involuntary as in the case of many people. When I was a college student, my
father was laid off from his job and I gave my mother my savings to keep up
payments on the house that they had built. Well they gave me life--no big
deal. So I had no money for food and in less than one semester, from about
September to late December, I lost more than 50 pounds, dropping from 185
pounds to about 130. I was halucinating and coughing up blood. One
professor refused to give me a grade untiI got a TB test-=-pretty high
handed, but I did it because I was young and agreeable. Now I'd cough up a
red goober in his eye!
2) I've devoted much of my life helping people feed themselves mainly
through education of various groups both in my native USA and elsewhere.
I've seen involuntary hunger, I don't like it, and I like less the economics
and politics that put most of these people in that situation. However, if
one of them told me that s/he had a RIGHT to be helped by me, I'd say go
screw yourself and move on to the next person.
This business of creating rights for people that are really OBLIGATIONS on
other people is fascist. Maybe in there somewhere there is a right to have a
shot at feeding yourself, but not, in my view, if you procreate like a fruit
fly. Such absolutes get in the way of solving real problems. Food problems
are largely land distribution problems compounded by absolutely insane
procreation rates. They are national and local problems which have been
created, often, by global economics, particularly the lending of money to
corrupt governments, to be paid back by export agriculture and other resource
extraction. I was a bit naive when I first went to Mexico and was astonished
to find many poor people living in a very rich country. I found the same
thing in the Philippines. Rather than putting people on some form of cosmic
welfare, where they have a right to be fed *but by whom? - is God derelict in
this regard?* lets get try to support local solutions and relieve
international pressures for resource extraction.
Pretty soon, the RIGHT to eat will justify canabalism. Where else is the
food to come from if people don't take measures to feed themselves and keep
An old friend, John Barrus, who was lobbiest for the Massachusetts Farm
Bureau years ago (and maybe still is), commented on service economies: "They
made a meager living, taking in one-another's laundry." Likewise, we can
make a meager living eating from one-another's gardens, putting pressure on
the remaining useful land until it is ALL ruined. How democratic.
Lets try to keep "rights" wedded with "responsibilities" so that the people
who get the right also get its responsibility, instead of assigning that to
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now permaculture
correspondence training with an email classroom. Copyright, 1996, Dan &
Cynthia Hemenway, P.O. Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 2052. YankeePerm@aol.com
If its not in our food chain, we're not thinking.