Quite a weekend of "interchange" on David Gumpert's blog, http://thecompletepatient.com
I'm not sure who the 'protagonist' is exactly, but I do know I am an 'antagonist' at times.
To what purpose? To dislodge the complacency that is putting every problem off somewhere where it's someone elses problem.
To every argument in this whole issue of raw milk, we have tough answers that require work, and easy answers that do not. For my part, in my experience, nothing lasting has ever come from easy answers. The sooner I got to the hard work - the sacrifice - the sooner the reward has come.
The hue and cry about rights - well - that is well covered, isn't it? That can be done from the armchair typing away at the keyboard. And some of that is most certainly necessary. But what about the real work - of moving forward on safety. Those that would say anything is alright all the time, especially if it's what I do, well, sorry to say, that is not in touch with today, here in 2010 and the reality of our situation. Our situation isn't right, it's not fair, but it is. And more can be done than we want to think, on our own, not needing FDA or DATCP or committees or others to start for us.
God has seen fit to put all the right things in front of me at the right times; if I have done anything, I have opened myself up to listening, to observation, to learning. Rigidity in ideas might work in politics (no waffling, changing your mind about anything is bad, right? Even on new information and thinking...), but it doesn't work 'out here' in the real world.
What He has put in front of me, well, many things, but of import now, was the story of Ben Franklin. What a great man he was - but flawed just like you and me. And the people, around the revolutionary war, and then the incredible document that is the Constitution - all flawed, quirky people, each with a different role to play. It could have gone so wrong - had every opportunity to go wrong - if each had not risen above themselves to see this larger purpose, and put aside their pettiness to get somewhere further.
Very wise men like Ben Franklin were at many points screamed at, accused of all ways of things, yet, they marshaled on. They could have - and my guess is - there were just such people - that got in a huff - and took their toys and went home - but we don't read about those, now do we? We read about the ones that chose sacrifice, put their own well being below the cause.
Especially poignant is what I read yesterday - a very great speech by Ben Franklin, at the end of the Constitutional Congress, when they had come up with this incredible document, yet, some were still unhappy with it - it was imperfect, Ben Franklin gave this speech that with the guidance from God they had come as close to perfection as could be, that they weren't going to get any closer than this, that they needed to be unanimous and work with the imperfection.
So too, then, we have this opportunity today - some will hold out for perfection before doing anything. Well, so much excuse for doing nothing. Others, myself included, will submit - submit - to others - knowing of our own imperfection, but our will to create something better, knowing protest against - is fine - but work towards - safe raw milk - is going to get us where we want to be.
The thing I keep hearing from farmers is, and no, they don't put it this way at all, but it is how it is, is, I am one little mobile piece of perfection. If I think it, it is good. No review necessary, no input from anyone necessary, because I think it, it is perfect.
That goes nowhere. But that goes with the screaming for our rights - and completely forgets about our responsibility.
A few years back I had the great fortune to go to Europe. So I got to see different cultures. And I noticed something, that really stuck with me. I noticed the mass transit - subways - in France. All nine ways of impediments at the gates to cheating, yet, at every one, people still cheating. They simply weren't going to stop it; only slow it down. Then - we go to Munich, Germany - and there are no barriers at all to the subway. Just a machine to buy your ticket. I asked a German about this: How can this possibly work? Their response was one of incredulity - "how can we have a working system if people don't pay?" They couldn't understand how someone would cheat. THAT was the difference in CULTURE -
So this is what we need here - back to the future - in the age of W.D. Hoard - the early 1900's - groups of farmers got together towards the mutual goal of quality. Today? We are all islands. All the French and looking to slide by without paying - when where we need to be is wondering why that guy over there would ruin it for all by cheating.
The rights people want to be in the German situation - but they're working with the French - it will never work - when I know we need to find the Germans amoungst us and show our strength, our will, resolve, and despite what anyone else would do, we will work towards safe raw milk.
Is raw milk safe as it is? Far safer than FDA/DATCP/whomever would want us to believe. But if we go out to farms and see unsafe practices - we have the appearance of impropriety - we need to be bulletproof - and as a group - willing to put up with more now to get more later. And not worry that some are going to get something for free that we have worked so hard for now. We know what we have done - and there is satisfaction in it, and that will be enough.
Ben Franklin was a master diplomat. He knew that in trying to get the French and the rest of the europeans on our side in the revolutionary war, couldn't just be about the negative - wanting to be out from under the yoke of England - but had to be a positive - the ideal of what America stood for - and a good thing he understood this, because the just not being under the yoke of England didn't go anywhere - it went to chaos. So I see the parallels with our battle - for rights, great. For responsibility, to something very very good.
It must start somewhere. It may as well be here.
Saturday November 6th, I am calling a meeting of those that would discuss raw milk safety at the farm level to our farm, here in Stoughton WI, starting 9am, ending when we're done.
Fee of $200 per couple/family/group represented. Lest anyone believe I would do this to make money, and yes, we do need money, I will value my & Julie's time at $20 per hour, pay out expenses, and anything left over will be redistributed back to the participants, or, at your option, contributed to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
This isn't a meeting to bitch about the unfairness of it all. Or conspiracy. Or how great raw milk is. These things are well taken care of elsewhere.
We are interested in coming together, and finding out what practices we farmers - are following to bring about safe raw milk, and to discuss how we move forward - as a group - independent of any laws - to represent ourselves to the public in a responsible manner - what more are we willing to do - how do we change this culture of ours.
This is a small something. If only one person shows up - it will be better than none. It will be a start.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin - Still proud Wisconsin Dairyman, Scott Trautman