by Francisco G. Gómez
Saturday’s March in Princeton against the evil empire of Monsanto couldn’t have happened on a more beautiful day. It appears that Mother Nature was listening to our prayers and deemed them worthy. We heard the sound of drums as we approached the Whole Earth Center, but they weren’t visible due to the throng gathered around them. A protester shouting through a megaphone, dressed in 18th Century Revolutionary garb, beckoned the oncoming cars that were passing by on Nassau Street to join the crowd that was beginning to swell. They didn’t seem to care!
As we entered the front drive of Whole Earth, a large group of protesters were gathered and many of them were dressed in very creative and imaginatively constructed costumes reflecting the concerns of global food, environmental safety, and most of all, the clarion call against Monsanto. The presence of Guy Fawkes and a few other Anons was particularly pleasing to see. For those that don’t know about the Anonymous Movement in America, well they’ve found an extremely effective
and covert way to voice their concerns about social injustices across the globe. As I turned my head to look back at Nassau St., a peculiar looking bug, a biological mutation, a result of genetic manipulation through its consumption of GMOs was walking my way. I was cracking up, and at the same time a sense of sadness came over me to know that its message addresses the realities of what’s happening in
our food supplies and that of the planet as well. If that weren’t enough to bring the message on home, right behind the bug came a young woman stricken with plague; the expression on her face was telling in a very horrifying way and the sign she carried put the finishing touch on her entire message.
On the store’s veranda a Blue Grass band was playing while presenters prepared to address the crowd. I can’t really say what the band was singing about because the PA system was turned down rather low, and when the presenters began to speak, they did so through a megaphone which was barely audible over the din of the protestors. Perhaps it would have been better to use the human microphone method employed by the Occupy Movement in the Wall Street protests a few years ago to have gotten important information to the people gathered. Definitely something that should be corrected for future marches! However, kudos to the organizers for organizing a wonderful demonstration of solidarity in the fight against Monsanto!
When the speakers finished presenting, the protesters converged onto Nassau St. towards the heart of Princeton, past the university and on to city hall. People were beating a variety of drums and other instruments, and different chants could be heard down the line of protesters marching on the sidewalk.
All in all, the march was peaceful and calm in keeping with city ordinances and protocols. I couldn’t help but reflect on the past marches I had been to, especially the ones back in the sixties that addressed the zeitgeist of the day, Vietnam and Civil Rights, amongst other causes. Those marches were attended by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of protesters. The atmosphere in that period of discontent was many times sustained with a fierce need to get points of social injustice across, even if there were moments of blood and possible death. We can never forget the protesters that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs and right to demonstrate in places like Kent State, Mississippi and Alabama. And, even if it was promising and gratifying to see such a diversity of people who marched last Saturday, coming together in solidarity, regardless of age, skin color, sexual preference, religious beliefs or any of the other things that many times divide us as people, I was left in dismay by the end of the march.
The feeling of gloom and dissatisfaction did not arise from the small turnout of protesters, or the lack of modern day Bob Dylans or Joan Baezs being unable to further inspire and fuel the flame of resistance against Monsanto within us all, because they didn’t show up. It was the disinterested people driving down the street, some not even looking our way. It was the bystanders who sat at the fast food shops, the people who walked by us and those that did stare as if we were peculiar or some novel entity. At times there was a wrenching need to tell them that we were also marching for them. That if they were so oblivious and in a hurry to go nowhere that day, that they could have joined us in the most worthy cause of this century, the sanctity of the seed. That which none of us can do without if we are to survive as a species on this planet.
Even if the chickens have come home to roost and gradually Americans are seeing the effects of their culture in decline, it is doubtful that critical mass will be achieved in this struggle, for the moment. Why, you may ask? Because the full impact of the economic and food crises being experienced by people across the globe hasn’t hit all of us in America, yet. If you’ve never felt the pangs of hunger or the destitution of homelessness you might find it easy to look the other way; it’s a temporary solution for your conscience. Perhaps it might take something more unsuspected, like being downsized and without financial resources to feed your family or yourself. I dare say that there’s a strange and uneasy foreboding in the air, it looms over an atmosphere of ignorance and stupidity, held up by an attitude of indifference or not caring at all. But, for the multitudes across the globe, that gathered last Saturday in mass to speak in a unified voice of discontent, the flame of protest continues to light their way! One can only hope that those citizens who stand by and look on with hope or disdain, will choose the first and not the latter and become a part of the solution, a cry for change fueled by the embers of protest.
As the march came to a halt in front of the steps of a municipal building, some presenters came forth and addressed the crowd again. Someone decided to change the megaphone for a microphone, this to no avail because it was turned down so low again that it was barely audible. A woman who had come from Mexico, to the States, in search of a better life began to speak. I moved closer to the base of the steps where I could hear her better. She started to speak and immediately tears came to her eyes as she told the story of Mexico’s decision to ban Monsanto’s GMO corn. Of all the things she spoke about, what hit home the most was the fact that maíz (corn) is Mexico’s most important food staple; generations to come would gradually feel the detrimental effects, especially the children, if the government hadn’t made such a wise decision. My mind wandered off to some minutes before, when we were marching to our final destination. I was behind a woman who held the hand of her small child as they marched down the street, they both held protest signs, the mother in her right hand, the little girl on her back.
Nations with far less resources and power are deciding that their children aren’t experiments, that the perpetuation of their cultures and ways of life are not to be altered negatively by the scientific projects of madmen whose only concern is monetary profits. For a nation that toots the horn of being a first world power, why don’t we Americans command that power? The answer to that question might be that, that power resides in the hands of political, economic and social crafters who continue to forge our lives in a mold that has failed and continues to fail in what it produces. An economic and politically corrupt power that metes out disaster and pain selfishly, without any regard for its people, and more so, for nature.
We will continue to be science experiments if we ALL don’t wake up and smell the ROUNDUP! March on my people, march on…