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Towards Planetary Commonwealth

By Edward Esko

 “WITHOUT FREEDOM OF THOUGHT THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS WISDOM & NO SUCH THING AS PUBLICK LIBERTY WITHOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH”

 

--BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 1722

Walking the halls of the House of Representatives, I notice the quote from Benjamin Franklin beneath a mural depicting the first Federal Congress in 1789. Alex Jack and I are in Washington, D.C. to present the Amberwaves Save Rice Petition to the United States Congress, as well as government agencies such as the EPA and FDA.

Accepting the Petition on behalf of Congress is Representative Dennis Kucinich from Ohio. Dennis--a strong supporter of Amberwaves--has arranged a guided tour of the Capitol building. We plan to meet in his office after the tour to formally present the Petition and discuss future initiatives for planetary health and peace.

Reflecting on the meaning of Franklin's words, I realize how the Save Rice Petition is an example of democracy at its best. After carefully weighing the issue of agricultural biotechnology, over 10,000 citizens exercised their freedom of thought and decided that genetically engineered rice, wheat, and other staple foods are a bad idea. They then exercised their freedom of speech by signing a Petition calling for a halt to the development of these genetically modified crops. Acting as messengers, Alex and I are conveying the will of these citizens to Congress, government agencies, and the food industry.

In addition to compiling the Petitions, Alex and I prepared for the trip by drafting an Amberwaves Commemoration acknowledging the invaluable contribution of African-Americans to the establishment of rice culture in the United States, and the importance of rice to the health of the American people. After Washington, I flew to South Carolina, which until the Civil War, was the epicenter of the American rice industry. In the coastal Low Country in and around Charleston, I toured historic rice plantations, visited the Rice Museum, and presented the Amberwaves Commemoration. Ironically, shortly after arriving in Columbia, the capitol of South Carolina, I witnessed a peaceful demonstration by a small group of African-Americans (perhaps descendants of rice farmers) seeking reparation for the injustices of slavery.

The demonstrators carried signs asking for recognition of the vital contribution of African-Americans to the establishment of our nation. As they marched past the South Carolina State House, one demonstrator beat an African drum while a solo questioner sang out and was answered by a chorus: "What do we want? Reparations. What do we need? Reparations. When do we want reparations? Reparations now!" Nowhere was the sacrifice of African-Americans more apparent than in the establishment of rice cultivation in the coastal South. The demonstrators inspired me to dedicate the Amberwaves Commemoration to their forebears who spent endlessly long hours laboring in the fields.

In the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Alex and I marvel at the free flowing spiral of energy in the building and the almost cosmological significance of the design. Congressmen, Senators, aides, and the public interact in a dynamic flow of movement. The Feng Shui of the Capitol indicates accessibility, movement, and change. I realize our democratic experiment is not a finished work but an evolving process.

The inscription "E Pluribus Unum" catches my attention. "E Pluribus Unum," or "out of many, one," is the inverse of the macrobiotic spiral of materialization. In the spiral of materialization, one infinite universe --the one-- manifests into endlessly diverse species and beings --the many. Out of one, many. "E Pluribus Unum" is the process in which the many return to the one. In terms of political governance, it represents the union of free and sovereign beings around the principle of self-regulation and self-governance.

Jefferson once said that democracy was an unstoppable trend that would eventually sweep the planet. Some countries would adopt it sooner, others later. In our increasingly planetary culture, "E Pluribus Unum" must eventually include all people. The most natural extension of the Jeffersonian ideal is a Planetary Commonwealth dedicated to securing for all people a clean natural environment and fresh clean water; safe, healthful, and nutritious food; adequate shelter; and basic education for health, happiness, and peace. The goal of Planetary Commonwealth is a world without hunger, pollution, poverty, ignorance, homelessness, and war.

Naturally, Planetary Commonwealth stands for world unity, peace, and understanding. At the same time, Planetary Commonwealth respects, protects, and preserves the unlimited diversity of human expression and the absolute sovereignty of the individual. As the universal manifestation of "E Pluribus Unum," Planetary Commonwealth --the one-- is nothing but the creation and expression of the earth's people --the many. The Commonwealth is by its very nature inclusive: all people on earth, together with all other species, are shareholders, founders, and members. As beneficiaries of the Commonwealth, human beings must actively protect all natural species, while preserving the natural environment for the benefit of future members and shareholders. All members of Planetary Commonwealth must strive to increase --not diminish-- the value of the enterprise.

During Jefferson's, Franklin's, and Washington's lifetime, all farming was natural and organic. Thus organic agriculture and a grain-centered diet were the unspoken foundation of the infant republic. Similarly, Planetary Commonwealth is founded upon the principle that, together with clean air, water, soil, and light, humanity's health and happiness is dependent upon its food. Planetary Commonwealth encourages a plant-centered diet based on whole grains, beans, and fresh vegetables. Adoption of this dietary pattern is nothing less than the foundation of personal and planetary health, while organic food and farming is the cornerstone of sustainable culture and prosperity.

At the Carolina rice plantation, I try the wooden mortar and pestle used to hull rice by hand. As I lift the mallet, I sense the spirits of the African-American women who awoke every day to this task. I am at once humbled and grateful. I whisper a silent thank you to these unknown pioneers and their families for their exhausting work. I pray their efforts shall not go unrecognized. I vow to carry organic rice and whole grains to the four corners of the earth --amber waves of grain; --together with the dream of health, peace, and freedom for all.

Edward Esko is a well-known macrobiotic author and teacher. Contemporary Macrobiotics, a compilation of over fifty of his essays, can be ordered online at www.1stbooks.com. He can be reached at Planetary Health/Amberwaves, Box 487, Becket, MA 01223. (413) 623-5645. Email: esko@berkshire.net