Remembrance, reflection and forethought.

This Remembrance Day, we enjoyed and appreciated our freedom: a safe, carefree walk with the dog, indulgence in the comforts of our sanitary and well furnished home,and several nutritious and tasty meals.

We thought about how there were times and places where these things were not taken for granted. And how many people fought and died to provide our freedom, safety and comfort.

Remembrance not only conjures a sense of appreciation for me, but it also evokes reflection upon current times and where we might be headed. It raises questions. Then again, for me, nearly everything does.

On peace, Lester B. Pearson (“The Greatest Canadian”, former Prime Minister, veteran) was a grandmaster, and was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his remarkable diplomacy. The acceptance speech he gave is an important read on a day like today.

My Great, Great Grandmother and Lester B. Pearson share the same grandfather (so they were cousins). My connection to the Pearson side of the family is in blood only, as I’ve not had contact with the extended family in Eastern Canada. However, I am struck to the core by the resemblance my father has to the images I’ve seen of Lester B, who commonly went by the name Mike. This remarkable resemblance to my father, whom I am very much like, has begged me to learn more about this great Canadian: a true Global Citizen. Could there be anything we share?

In reading a biography, I have learned that Mike Pearson had some significant dealings in agriculture and food policy. He was actively involved in the creation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which was the beginning of his international career. This organization came to be for several reasons, which are outlined here. This excerpt strikes me exceptionally (my emphasis added):

The two-year, three-month process which launched the FAO occurred when the world was caught in an incredibly destructive global war, to be marked near its close with the drop of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Allied nations and public opinion were strongly concerned with ensuring that global peace be gained and maintained. There was a global sense of despair, hope and urgency — that there would be either one world or none; that nations must and could cooperate to prevent further conflicts; that humanity could achieve global abundance and lasting peace if beneficial science was available to all. And the first issue that the allied nations tackled to meet that end was food and agriculture — a basic need with largely non-political implications and jurisdictions.

Though Pearson had little knowledge of the subject of agriculture, at the founding conference to form the organization he provided “unique abilities as mediator, and his exceptional ability to approach topics with a long-term, forward-thinking view.”

Declaration at the conference that formed the FAO

From reading more about him, I’ve seen that I have many similarities in outlook and in personality, but perhaps, none so strongly as the long-term, forward-thinking view.

I’ve always felt, and been told, that I am different from my peers. Most have suggested that perhaps I’m just more “mature for my age”. Some suggest I have a wisdom or principles that set me apart. Maybe it is this – that seeing wholes, and feeling the need to steward the future, are not common approaches, and people like me and my buddy Mike can serve others with this skill.

My notion, shared with many others, that food security is of utmost importance, touches not only the realm of agriculture, nutrition and food distribution policy, but also of economic stability, social security, and ultimately, peace. I also observe the state of our global environment and human population as threatening the sustainability of our food systems.

I’ve written before about the need to support and aid those regions experiencing the pangs of climate change (foreign aid is also something Pearson wholly supported and directed). And while nations with many more mouths to feed than ours increasingly suffer from the devastating impacts of climate change on basic human needs, can we ignore the political instability this will exacerbate? I fear we are already observing the impacts of the hungry and desperate human element in the Middle East.

In North America, our tunnel vision has us on the tracks to address restoring the economy. To resume growth and prosperity, while competition overseas threatens a previously held “death grip” on wealth and supremacy. Strong words perhaps… but this is what North America stands to lose. So long as we retain faith and buying power, and markets continue to hold water, the economic fabric may well sail the US to the front of the fleet in the future.

However, should a most important foundation, a global system that provides abundant and affordable food, suffer any greater turmoil than it has recently, all bets are off. All indications are that the risk of this happening are high and increasing. Food comes first, and any other GPD growth supporting purchases will fall short of mending the economy.

As a Canadian, I pay respect to the Canadian Veterans especially because I live in a unique nation that has the ability to seek a balance of freedom and social support and that regards the welfare of the citizens of other nations as necessary to global security. I am also keen to keep this identity, and not to have it co-opted. Thank you Lester B. Pearson, for helping to validate this sentiment, though dim in the Canada I see today. Let us pray it will be refurbished without the ills of hunger or the threat of war.

To a new world waiting,


One Response

  1. […] think that, coming from a bloodline that includes the likes of one of the greatest Canadians of all time, I might have a little more respect for our capital and the important work that is supposed to […]

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