I felt a deep sense of sadness this morning and was only able to identify its source when I began to write. It was then I realized that I had begun reading Janisse Ray’s book “The Seed Underground” last night. And just like a seed planted in the ground, this book began to swell inside of me overnight.
Ray addresses the threats inherent in losing our plant diversity and, with it, our food security and food sovereignty which are continually attacked by a few very greedy and power hungry multinational corporations. I am no newcomer to this complex issue. Having left my professional urban job behind to become a rural homesteader/farmer, I am in the midst of this struggle against the evil corporate monster, on a small personal level on a daily basis. However, this level of sorrow was new.
Maybe it piggy-backed on the recent publicity of brutal gang rapes of young women and girls in India, on top of hearing about more than 200,000 suicides by Indian farmers who had been cheated out of their livelihood by using genetically modified seed that promised a better income and delivered only desperate disappointment. Then there is human slavery, the sex trade, the pollution of the oceans. It’s enough to want to find another planet and start all over from scratch….
I dedicated my blog to Beauty in an effort to focus on what is beautiful, honorable, sincere, authentic, and uplifting. Still, the ugliness of politics slides in here this morning and I cannot focus on anything else until this issue moves through my emotional space.
Not being a masochist and having a very low threshold for pain tolerance, I ask the question: Can there be Beauty in sorrow and suffering? Here is what I came up with.
There IS Beauty in increasing our awareness to what’s really going on, getting to the truth of things. This light of expanded awareness also throws a longer and deeper shadow in the form of sorrow. In this case of biodiversity and food security, it becomes the sadness of knowing what has been lost and what still could be lost if we don’t fight for our survival and our right to be healthy and thrive. And the sadness over knowing that not enough people understand yet what’s at stake here.
The more we know, the more our heart gets split wide open with sorrow. Yet, the Beauty of knowing is in no longer being ignorant of what affects us and then having choices to channel frustration and anger (the step-children of sorrow) into useful action.
Luckily, Janisse Ray not only lays out the depressive reality but also offers suggestions for constructive action. You don’t have to be a farmer or even a gardener to read this book. If you belong to that group of humans who eats, this book is for you.
Sometimes, Beauty must be fierce and partnered with Tough Love – to cut through the b.s. with a sharp sword. There is Beauty in choosing the warrior stance when it’s needed. Just like the yoga pose, being a warrior requires strong legs, a firm stand that brings the center of gravity lower to the ground so we won’t easily be tipped over. While grounding ourselves firmly, one arm extends towards the horizon focusing our gaze on what’s coming at us. This warrior stance comes with its deep sense of peace and total focus. There is Beauty in that.