Saturday, September 29, 2012

Persecution and Perspective

Last Saturday, during a boring second half of football, my friend Soren reminded me of a time I was making a case for Christians thinking they were persecuted when, in reality, they were just sensitive to criticism. My case being that Christians are the dominant religion of this country, the Republican Party bends over backward for them and, well, they are still in charge (unless one thinks President Obama is a closet Muslim...and Soren might think that). I don't think Soren agrees with me on this point. There was something about Maplethorpe's depiction of Jesus on the cross in a jar of urine and the Christian reaction versus the Muslim fringe insanity about a movie figuratively urinating on the character of Muhammad.

Regardless, this idea of persecution came to mind again yesterday as I was driving back to work. I didn't recocognize the man talking on the radio. Later, they'd say it was Mark Bitman and that didn't help me. He must have been a foodie because he was talking about the idealic Parisian bistro and personal napkins in cubbies. I was interested. Then talk turned to a recent Stanford study suggesting the organic food was no more nutritious than other food.

Mark would go on to say that he thought the study was wrong because it didn't take into account the health benefits of not having pesticides on your food as well as the health of workers in the field and the general sustainability of food production. Of course, what I heard was an attack on food manufacturing. As a man employed for quite some time by one of the country's largest food manufacturers, indeed, in the end of the business with the least glamour and the most persecution from activists, I was offended by his lack of perspective and railing against the industry that keeps everyone fed for the lowest price of any industrialized nation. I was incensed at his narrow understanding of how hungry the world will be when we go organic and crop yields fall dramatcally, livestock die of trivial diseases and food prices soar faster than health care costs.

Then I thought, "Maybe I've lost perspective like Soren and his fellow Christians. Maybe I see attacks where there are none."

It could be that this gentleman had no problem with the food industry. He could have just been a fan of organic. Mind you, his predilection for organic makes it easy for him to dismiss the macroeconomic arguments about organic farming. He also doesn't have my perspective. And I don't have the Christian perspective. I get dozens of industry emails and magazines each month. I see all the urban newspaper editorials decrying lean finely textured beef, gestation crates, processed foods, multibillion dollar food companies and the sorry lot of folks that work for them. I feel the persecution that others may not even notice is happening.

Truth has become murky. It's colored by my feelings about losing my job. Soren's views of Muslim riots is equally filtered by his perspective of a calm, helpful and nonviolent network of Christian churches. The modern world is designed to accomodate whatever truth we choose. Objective truth has been lost. We want everything our own way and when it comes to information, we can filter out everything detestable to us without effort or thought.

A final thought on this point - I watched the Nebraska U.S. Senate election debate between State Senator Deb Fischer and former Senator Bob Kerrey. I don't like Deb Fischer. As you may have guessed from earlier posts, this stems from my distaste for the tea party. This obviously colored my view of the debate. Most striking to me, though, was the twin ideas of Ms. Fischer that we can balance the budget without raising taxes and save Medicare. She wants everything her way and this leaves no room for truth. Medicare cannot be saved without raising taxes. Actually, it can. You can start killing old people. This won't get Ms. Fischer elected though. Tell the senior citizens you'll keep doling out checks. Tell the younger folks you'll lower their taxes. That you can do what? Deb Fischer will be a US Senator and that's what matters most to Deb Fischer.

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