What Do We Stand For?

January 14th, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on What Do We Stand For?

familyFarm“When we stand for something, we stand against an unspeakable number of other things without ever mentioning one of them. When we stand against something, we stand against one thing even more than we stand for something”.

The above is an anonymous quote, but very powerful words indeed. Mahatma Gandhi spent a lifetime working for Indian independence, which necessitated having British rule out of India. But Gandhi really didn’t make the fight about the British. Gandhi always fought for and promoted Indian freedom and independence. He never personalized his fight against the British. It was always about freedom and independence. And in the end, without ever lifting a sword, he basically annoyed the British out of India. He defeated the most dominant European nation and forced their rule out of his country. But in a sense, defeating Britain was really not his aim – Indian independence was what he fought for.

Dr. Martin Luther King spent his very brief lifetime working for justice and equality. He was not against white America, who essentially created a political and social structure that forced African Americans into second-class citizenry. He fought for justice, and he fought for equality. The civil rights movement was not about humiliating or defeating white America. It was about liberating Black America.

Both of these remarkable men were successful because of what they stood for. I believe it’s both fair and accurate to say that Gandhi and Dr. King were successful because they were fighting for their cause and not against a host of things that prevented their cause from happening. Simply put – they fought with love in their hearts and not with hate or malice. History shows us that the true revolution emerges from this approach. We must be passionate, fervent, and completely focused on what our vision is… but, we cannot achieve it by simply being against everything that stands in our way.

So, let’s fast forward in history to 2014. In our industry the question becomes, are we against GMO’s, big agribusiness and pesticides, or are we for a sustainable food system that can healthfully feed the world? There is an enormous difference in these approaches. If we take the road of “being against”, then our battles are endless and random. There will always be something to be against, and we will always be fighting on someone else’s terrain. They will control the argument and they will control the outcome. You essentially give away your power when you’re fighting solely against something. Moving from one issue to the next makes you look and seem dedicated and passionate, and all about what you believe. But what it does not do, is help make you effective.

When we are for something… when we are for a healthy and sustainable food system for both the planet and its inhabitants – well, long term, we can’t lose. Simply by being strongly for something, you are implicitly against many things. Being for sustainability and health automatically means your against GMO and pesticide use in our food. But the converse is not necessarily true. Because you’re against GMO’s and pesticides does not automatically put out the message for what you are for. What you become known for is what you’re against. You only capture half of your battle. When you’re for something, your fight embodies the entire picture of what you’re about.

Monsanto will always be victorious when the battle is fought as being against GMO’s. They are incredibly well prepared – from their messaging to the resources they control. They are more than a formidable opponent. They are currently dominating and controlling the situation. But look at their messaging. They have not taken the opposite stand from us. Quite frankly, they have done a better job with our message in promoting GMO’s, than we have with our message in opposing them. Their argument for genetic modification in our food supply is that it will help feed the world and create a sustainable food system for the future. And they have successfully messaged this in such a way that when you oppose genetic modification you will be hurting the farmers, hurting food companies, and hurting future generations. This is why the fight to label food that contains GMO‘s has been defeated in very progressive states, where we would have presumed that the GMO fight would have easily gone the other way. But Monsanto and Dupont won the messaging battle. They weren’t against what we were for… they stood for something, and they showed how what they do supports what they stand for… even if it was inaccurate and untrue. They own us with messaging and they will continue to do so as long as we believe the answer is to fight against GMO’s. When our approach becomes that we’re fighting for a healthy and sustainable food system, then genetic modification will begin to wither. They can’t fight against that message.

And to be clear, this is not giving up! Not even close. This does not mean that we don’t see GMO’s as a key issue. It simply means that we are altering our strategy to become more effective. History clearly shows us that the side with love in their hearts has prevailed and turned away those who look towards a selfish gain. Think about it. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky nonsense. This is a tried and true method that has been enlisted by leaders who successfully fought much larger battles than what we’re up against now.

Keep fighting the good fight, indeed! But it’s time for a gut check. Are we angry and filled with disdain for our opponent, and bouncing from battle to battle, or are we feeling compassion for our planet, and even for those who are mistakenly guiding us in the wrong direction? Our effectiveness depends on it.