Unalienable Rights

I was thinking last night how much of my writing touches on toxicity. Agricultural pesticides, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the meat we eat, the unending accumulation of plastic, the oil spewing endlessly into the Gulf devastating industry and wildlife.

This morning, I made my usually weekly trip to the Asian supermarket. They have a huge produce section with fruits and vegetables from all over the world. People are filling their carts and once again all I can think of are the pesticides they will be ingesting round the dinner table. Yes, some produce is more chockfull of pesticides than others – I buy melons and avocados which are less affected due to their thick skin – but there’s plenty o’ pesticides that are going to end up in the bellies and bodies of the families awaiting their “nourishment.”

Then I get in the car and began listening to a report on Democracy Now. They were talking about The Dream Act. According to Wikipedia, “The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that was introduced in [Congress] on March 26, 2009. This bill would provide certain undocumented alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency. The alien students would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, a qualified student must have ‘acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States,’ or have ‘served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.’ ‘Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.’”

The radio show had on media activist and community organizer Marco Amador. He has put together a video report “Yo Soy El Army,” exposing the military’s tactics for heavy recruitment of the Latino population. The report explains that No Child Left Behind requires that every high school give the military access to its facilities, and even student records, for the sake of recruitment. He also exposes that the Pentagon was an initial contributor to the writing of The Dream Act with the clear understanding that the Latino population would be well suited for recruitment, as they are not financially positioned to attend college any other way than through the military.

Amador points out that the military’s targeted areas for recruitment are New York City, Lost Angeles, and San Antonio, all heavily Latino. As he was talking I found myself thinking that there is a connection between the two subjects now in my mind, chemicals in food and manipulative military recruitment. Let’s see what the connection might be.  

For one thing, war is toxic. It destroys bodies, minds and hearts, let alone entire nations. If you are lucky enough to come back from a war alive, chances are you carry the toxicity of war back with you. It gets wedged in your brain tissue like the artificial sweeteners in diet soda that advertisers recruit people to drink. I see youth downing diet soda all the time and I think, “You’re literally drinking poison. Stop!”

And then I see the Latino youth, drinking in what the military has to say. They start thinking that this is their ticket to a better and safer life. They begin to believe that going to war will prove their patriotism for the U.S.. But then they go to war, get reprogrammed and kill people or contribute to killing, mostly for the sake of protecting American capitol.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the world “alien” can be defined as “differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility.” Latinos are human. Do they really differ from any of us in nature or character?

Many Latinos have come to this country because of the disastrous affects of NAFTA, which made working conditions and wages inhumane in Mexico, forcing them to risk their lives and come here to make enough money to care for their families. Many Latinos in this country are illegal aliens who are welcomed and used by the agricultural industry and other low-end labor work to make greater profits possible for U.S. industry.

It is true that the U.S. cannot support a continuing influx of people from other countries, but we treat “aliens” as if they were sub-human, as if it is their fault that the world is the way it is, as if they do not have families and loved ones to care for, as if they have not been hurt by the forces of greed that are tearing apart so much of this world. Funny how Latinos are illegal aliens when the do not serve the interests of corporations, but are welcome when they do.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are alien substances that are incompatible with the human body. Aspartame is part of an unbelievably corrupt story that involved G.D. Searle and Company (the manufacturer), Donald Rumsfeld, the CEO of Searle at the time aspartame was under consideration by the FDA, and the millions of dollars spent to influence the FDA to approve it despite the initial tests that proved its carcinogenic and neurotoxic effects. (You can’t make this stuff up, I’m tellin’ ya.) The corporations know this stuff is toxic and yet they sell it with all their heart to the youth and adults of America. And they drink it because they think it’s safe because the FDA said so. Yikes.

The human species needs to be educated on the truth behind the smoke and mirrors and then change how we live in the world. Artificial sweeteners are toxic to the body. (GD Searle conducted all the studies on aspartame that eventually were used as evidence that this substance was safe.) They are unnatural and cause unalterable harm once they accumulate in the body. Humans need to stop buying products that have artificial sweeteners. The dollar speaks loudly. If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it anymore.

How does this apply to war and the military? What if we realized that in the end war rarely succeeds in accomplishing what it is advertised to do (for example to protect freedom as opposed to stay in control of oil reserves). I do acknowledge that given the world we have created, we still need a military, for now. But we don’t need to be engaged in all the wars we are engaged in, wars that have stretched the military to the point of exhaustion, making the recruitment of Latinos and African Americans all the more aggressive. If we gave the poorer people of this country opportunities for education, then the military would be a choice, just like diet soda.

Artificial sweetener is being put into the recruitment tactics for poor youth of color to drink and into diet soda that all youth drink. The youth are our future. Our destiny as a species has not yet been determined. These are times that are asking us to change the course of human history, to wake up from the consumer, industrial trance and think differently about how to live as a species.

Thankfully, there are organizations letting Latinos know there are alternative ways to fulfill “The Dream Act” (a decent piece of legislation). Thankfully, there are all kinds of people and organizations getting into schools and beginning to educate kids on that good old phrase, “you are what you eat.”

It often seems that just keeping up with our lives is all we can do. But we need to go deeper as humans right now and change how we live on this Earth for the sake of a better world. It may sound cliche, but we owe it to the children. Change is alive and anyone can join in. It sounds like recruitment, I know, but at least I don’t use artificial sweeteners.

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