Ah, Memorial Day. The day when Americans fire up the grill, slap an extra magnetic ribbon on the SUV and try to achieve that perfect zen state of drunkeness where they can actually sit through nine innings of professional baseball. Although hold on…I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting here beyond the day off work…oh, that’s right! Let’s not forget the true spirit of Memorial Day. The thing that holds our great country together in exhilirating national lockstep: celebrating the bad decisions made by young men who were either too ignorant to understand or too cynical to care about the consequences of their actions.
To quote Dave Trenga: this is the age faceless, nameless, endless war. The United States has been engaged in continuous military action since World War II, having bombed some 33 countries in that time. What does this have to do with veganism or agriculture? Well, as Mickey Zezima has been kindly reminding us all weekend, the United States military is the worst polluter on the planet. Unlike major corporations like BP or Exxon, the military doesn’t even have to maintain the pretense that it cares about the environment, much less make an effort to clean up the devastation it leaves in its wake.
Sustainability is a concern for us and a lot of our readers. We believe that, beyond supporting local agriculture, there is a bigger picture when it comes to the health and wholeness of the planet. If you regard yourself as an environmentalist or a supporter of animal rights, it is incumbent upon you to oppose war, not just symbolically but materially. What that opposition looks like is up to you but, if nothing else, just don’t work for them.
That means don’t join the service, don’t work for a reconstruction firm, don’t take their research grants, don’t build their machines and, if you’re clever enough to cook the books and get away with it, don’t pay the taxes that they use to keep the eternal war going.
If you have mourning to do today then by all means do it, and my sincere condolences to you. But just remember: we are all here on this planet together and what we do to the Earth, the animals and eachother, we ultimately do to ourselves. If humans are going to make it as a species, we need to make some radical changes in the way we allow our collective labor to be mobilized.
Here are a couple of good resources on the impact of war on nonhuman animals and the environment:
An useful overview of ecological fallout from specific 20th and 21st century wars as provided by, oddly enough, a Danish water treatment corporation.
If you want more detailed information, searching for the name of a war or conflict + “environmental impact” will usually bring up some good primary resources.