This was my solo marathon driving day. In some ways the first three days were training- different mileage, with the help of a friend, and with cool destinations as carrots. But this day was looonngggggg.
Itinerary: St. Louis, MO to Centennial, CO
As I was driving, I passed two categories of things that made me reflect: fields and fields of corn and what I think were soybean plants AND billboards with some sort of religious content. Oh, and one more thing in Kansas were oil drilling platforms scattered in the midst of the crop fields.
I read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma a few years ago and started to get really interested in food systems, and just seeing the vast fields of what I'm assuming were mono-crops for the purpose of money and not of food, I was struck by the reality that everything is so interconnected and that to change the current industrial food complex, it would take huge overhauls– government provides subsidies to farmers which encourages (or even forces them) to move to cash crops like corn and soybeans; many of our systems (food, energy) depend on these cash crops; farmers and town economies depend on these cash crops; and yet the whole system really doesn't produce healthy food for the people both right around those farms as well as the rest of the country. What would it take to change this system that has been handcuffing us for the last only 30-40 years? I saw that many of the fields were bone dry because of this drought and it stresses again the interconnectedness of this whole system, one that isn't meant to be nimble or responsive to environmental or other external factors.
And then on the issue of the religious billboards. I knew I was in a red state just by driving on the highway, red in a way that I was definitely not used to. It made me think about how I would have conversations with folks in these states. Would we be able to have a conversation about politics and religion, which have become so intertwined in the last several years in a way that worries me a little? Would we be able to find common ground despite some major differences in our views on the role of religion in politics, the role of religion in individual's lives?
Since I became increasingly politicized in my mid 20s, I notice I have moved not only farther to the left but also, I get more frustrated when hearing pundits on the right talk their talk. It sets up a wall where I can no longer listen to them speak and shut down any potential for discourse and dialogue. Is this what our country is coming to? Walls between people who have differing views? Where are our models of civility and reaching across differences? And am I a hypocrite who talks about racial inclusion and diversity but can't apply the same lens and approach to political differences?
Well, food for thought anyway.