Letters for Saturday, October 4, 2008

• A plea on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday

• Get on the bus

• Obama has vision

A plea on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday

Thursday was Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and I’m taking this opportunity to make a plea to one and all. This was the man who sent the mighty British colonial rulers who ruled India for a couple of centuries home without guns and violence. This was the man whom Einstein spoke of as “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a man once walked in flesh and blood.” This was a man who stood for peace and non-violence against humans and all other life forms. Growing up in his native Gujarat where Jainism is the predominant religion and with compassion to animals as its foremost tenet, the Mahatma took that to heart and practiced it. Animals were raised in his ashrams, but never to be eaten.

Mahatma Gandhi was opposed to industrialization. He talked about the environmental ills of building huge factories. Rural economy was one he advocated very strongly and that is very evident when one lives in a place like Kaua‘i. Farmers markets, hand-loomed fabrics and consuming local products were very key to his successful village economy model.

I want to celebrate this great man’s birthday with an appeal to meat eaters to reduce and eliminate meat from their diet for environmental reasons. The meat industry is the number one polluter and a big factor leading to global warming — and it hurts our environment more than all the factories, cars and airplanes combined. To produce one pound of meat, we use about 10 pounds of grains. Seventy percent of the grain produced in the U.S. is used to feed livestock. Half the water consumed is used by the meat industry. Our ground water is being withdrawn 25 percent faster than it is being replenished. Eight times as much fossil fuel energy is used in the production of animal protein as is used in plant protein production. Four hundred gallons of fossil fuels are used to produce food for the average meat-eating American each year. A meat eater requires about three times as much farmland than a vegetarian. The animals raised for food produce 1.37 billion tons of manure annually. The manure often spills out of open-air storage pits and into waterways, accelerating the growth of algae. When the algae die, their decomposition depletes the water of oxygen. This causes the deaths of millions of fish. Manure also releases ammonia into the air, which can contaminate rain, killing forests. Fumes from factory farms cause people in the area to experience respiratory problems and other ailments. Nitrates leak from manure into community drinking water, causing serious human health problems. The fishing industry also contributes to environmental degradation. Many species are being fished faster than they can reproduce. Some 15 of the 17 major ocean fisheries are exhausted or overexploited, so many marine food webs are depleted, and ocean ecosystems are seriously damaged. Myriads of other animals are accidentally caught and killed in the nets, such as nearly 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises killed each year. Pulling bottom trawls across the sea floor devastates habitats including coral reefs.

Above all, there is the factor of compassion to animals. Mahatma Gandhi believed that animals have souls and feelings much like human beings. Bernard Shaw, who was also a  vegetarian, said, “Animals are my friends. I don’t eat my friends.” Pet lovers can understand this more than anybody else and need to look into their hearts and extend the love they have for their pet to other animals.

Adding solar water heaters, whole house solar systems and windmills, and reducing auto usage, etc., are all great solutions to the global warming problem, but the biggest culprit is meat eating. Isn’t it time to address this as well? This is a problem that each and every one of us can help solve without big organizations, government actions, or public expenses. All we have to do is start eating less meat and give up eating if we can do that over time. Please try to do that for the sake of our Earth.

 • Vi Herbert, Kilauea

Get on the bus

The Kauai Bus is a true blessing to our cosmic hamlet. 

I travel with my bike and use the bus to transport my bicycle around the island. The Kauai Bus can only accommodate two bikes.

Many times I see the bus coming and there are already two bikes on the front rack and I think, “Bummer,” then like magic, out of a full bus comes one of the people with a bike and dismounts, allowing me to go.

The bike rack is as cosmic as our island and the Kauai Bus is one great alternative to driving. No worries about breakdowns, no worries about being pulled over by the cops, no worries about gas, insurance, maintenance or parking. The Kauai Bus helps traffic, helps the environment and alleviates stress, and with monthly unlimited travel passes selling for only $15 allows one to save money that otherwise would had been spent on gas. Last, but not least, it gives one time to meet other people.

Recently I had the opportunity to help a woman on the bus. Here’s the story:

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says “That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen.”

The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to me, “The driver just insulted me.”

I told her “You go right up there and tell him off — go ahead, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”

Jokes aside, The Kauai Bus is one great, fun ride.

 • Kimo Rosen, Kapa‘a

Obama has vision

For those of you still undecided voters here are five easy to understand reasons why there is no other choice than Barack Obama for president:

• The country is going in the wrong direction. He has the skills to turn the country around. He knows how to bring change by mobilizing people from the ground up from his community organizing experience instead of the usual way from the top down. It is unusual for a presidential candidate who knows how to build grassroots movements which is one of the most important skills he will bring to the presidency. He has shown this ability in his campaign.

• He has a vision for the country. He communicates the vision effectively and can mobilize people with his ability to inspire.

• He has legislation experience both at state and national levels, critical to getting things done.

• He has a degree from one of the best schools in America and has used his education to help people and not corporations.

• He has lived in other less affluent countries than ours which brings a fuller understanding of the world. Our country is in big trouble — this is a very important election.

• Michelle Carroll, Kilauea

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