Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Superheroines, Saving Us All

Where has Wonder Woman gone? She’s right here among us, past and present.

Bill Moyers recently featured a woman who believes she must live with purpose. Sandra Steingraber, a scientist, cancer survivor, and mother, will go to jail for trespass as a result of her efforts to call attention to the harms of hydraulic fracturing. Her imprint is to teach her children that we can and we must stand up to power in order to solve problems and leave the world better for them

Leymah Gbowee and Eileen Sirleaf, both of whom have been featured in this blog, are Sandra Steingraber’s sisters. They too stood up to power, the brutal Charles Taylor of Liberia, in order to bring peace to their homes, a peace not only free of war, but also war’s devastating weapons: rape and deprivation. These women believed their duty to be returning childhood to their children, . They shared a Nobel in recognition of their peaceful disobedience to bring a tyrant to justice and restore a nation.

Another woman, Vandana Shiva, who also appeared on Bill Moyers’ program, is a descendant of Rachel Carson, the fine scientist who first sounded the alarm about our environment. Carson was criticized during her lifetime, called an alarmist, a woman who doth protest too much, but history has judged her otherwise. She is now held in high esteem for her ability to see through the thicket of corporate interests to a truth that those interests may not serve people and the planet well.

Shiva now faces the same criticism for warning us against governments that collaborate with corporations at the expense of the individual. The EU, for example, has criminalized seed holding so that companies including Monsanto may hold farmers hostage, forcing them to buy seed annually rather than cultivate seed from the harvest. For the small farmer in India, the need to buy seed each year is overwhelming, leading many to abandon their farms and even commit suicide.

Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, and other companies will profit in perpetuity for what they deem to be patents and intellectual property rights on seed. Allowing no interlopers, even Nature and God, these companies claim to have created seed that is distinct and unique through genetic modification, through chemical use that programs seed to fight weeds, and through genetic code to prevent seed from sprouting from plants grown the previous season. These companies consider themselves to be inventors of seed.  

The recent budget bill carried over a section from earlier bills related to budget and/or agri-business that prevents courts from injunctions against products, including seed, previously approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Such a clause betrays the founding principles of this nation: checks and balances. U. S. courts function as the last resort for citizen petitioner who cannot sway Congress to initiate or overturn legislation. Our courts are our arbiters, and their authority to uphold the rights of citizens should not be abridged.

We need Vandana Shiva and Rachel Carson and Eileen Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee and Sandra Steingraber to be our voices, to advise us about threats to our nations, its citizens, and our planet. We need the tireless efforts of those in search of a greater good, and we need to embrace them, thank them, and support them.