by Pavlos Georgiadis
For the third year in a row, I am joining this big Wir Haben Es Satt demonstration to hit the streets of Berlin calling for a future that is sustainable, just and humane. As a matter of fact, I am back in Berlin to join my voice with the thousands who demand a return back to logic.
There is plenty to protest about in this demonstration. Big agribusiness with their corporate control of our food systems and our lives, GMOs with their dirty story of profit-driven totalitarianism, the havoc of corporate rule envisioned by the TTIP, the politicians’ blind eye on the use of nasty chemicals all around us. All these are issues that, one way or another, we can- and should – bring to the public dialogue in our everyday lives.
The real reason I am back in Berlin is that now, more than ever before, it is high time that our food movement connects with cross-cutting issues that will define the future we want. And these are no other than respecting human rights, defending our health and that of the planet, deciding on a development path that will allow the future to exist in peace and security.
Two years ago, I came from Greece as one of those striving to regain control of their future, in a country controlled by the banks, corporations and ludicrously paid, unelected bureaucrats of an EU-ECB-IMF troika. I was fed up with this Europe which is driven by a narrow, profit-driven mindset. It occurred to me, that as true Europeans, we must protect Europe by itself.
Last year, as I was standing once again on that big stage in front of the Chancellery in Berlin, my gaze was travelling through the colourful crowds all the way to the sunny streets of Athens. I could see the hopes and dreams of the youth of my country, who are shattered by such a bad handling of this crisis. A crisis that was not created by this youth, but is hitting them most. It was obvious to me, that this demonstration was not just about the food system. It was about democracy and unity, and whether we take our future back, or we leave it to the hands of fascism and extremism.
This year I am back and, quite frankly, I have no message to send to our politicians. There is no point to do so, for they do not represent us any more. It is the banks and corporations that run the show, and unfortunately our elected officials are too “polluted” by their dependencies on them, and have lost contact with our real needs. But I am here to speak with citizens, who are gathering from all corners of Germany and Europe for this demonstration.
In the last months, we are all witnessing the bitter face of war, as hundreds of innocent children are dying in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea. Frontline communities in Lesvos, Athens and other parts of my country are there to help, despite the austerity terror that is plundering Greece to a continuous recession spiral. The pain of these refugees is becoming an everyday routine for all of us. As we are extending our hand to pull them from the wild waves, we remind ourselves that they are not just anonymous people. They are humans, they have names, they have backgrounds and stories, they have hopes and aspirations. They are exactly like us and they are affected by exactly the same centres of power that we protest against here in Berlin.
With every step we are doing in this demonstration, let us also remember one more thing. We are just one month after a historic climate deal was struck in Paris, which is promising to put our planet back on a path to survival. This Agreement will be no more than a piece of paper with some signatures on it, unless we the people stand for our right to decide on our governments’ action against climate change. As we are marching in the streets of Berlin, there are distant lands sinking below raising sea waters, because of our way of doing things here in the developed world. What we are saying in this demonstration is enough is enough with agriculture being the problem; it is time to become the solution.
This is why this year’s demonstration is the most important of all. And we should not miss the opportunity to connect the dots, for our message is not just about the land and food we eat.
Sure we are going down the streets of Berlin with a message for a just food system, one based on regenerative, non-extractive agriculture. We are advocating for better policies that make our countryside viable and allow farmers to keep providing for the society. Policies that provide opportunities for young people to stay in the countryside and work the land. The type of agriculture that cares about consumers’ health and nutrition, and does not perpetuate the hunger crisis. But we are ultimately calling for something bigger: climate justice, revitalisation of humanity and a rights-based approach to development and the economy.
In the absence of political sense, it remains to see whether we are strong enough to unite and take the cause on our hands. This is our task because this crisis is so deep, that if we accept it passively there is no viable future. There is only annihilation, there is crime, there is war.
A future of peace, justice, and the very possibility of sustainability, is a future in which citizens re-embed themselves in the community of the earth. Creating human communities where we know each other, we care for each other, we love each other, we celebrate each other. The potential of remembering our power is so huge, we haven’t even started to explore where it can take us.
I am back in Berlin to remind myself, for the best of action is yet to come.
Food Is Not A Weapon the 15.Garden
Fetewei Tarekegn (Ethiopia) and the gardening with refugees project he works on in Berlin