Connecticut NOFA Keynote
CR Lawn, March 3, 2001
Thank you. It’s good to be back in balmy
Connecticut. I say “balmy” because it was 12 below zero
yesterday morning in central Maine and we still have 3 feet of snow.
I say “back” because I have a little history here that
goes back to the late sixties when I attended law School in New
Haven and worked for an underground newspaper called View from
the Bottom for which I achieved a certain small notoriety.
I couldn’t resist bringing back a souvenir to celebrate this
occasion. Anyone here know what this is? [Holds up tear gas canister.
No one can identify it.] During this time Black Panther Party leaders
Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins were arrested and put on trial for
their lives. Thirty years ago in May there was a huge demonstration
on their behalf, store windows were boarded up all over New Haven,
the National Guard was called out, massive violence was feared though
never materialized and this is one of the tear gas canisters used
by zealous police that weekend. I was part of the successful class-action
lawsuit against the New Haven Police Department and the FBI that
resulted in a multimillion dollar out-of-court settlement to 1,500
plaintiffs who were illegally wiretapped. Living proof that you
can fight the system and occasionally even win!
So I am no stranger to dark times and struggles.
Today we live in another dark time. Having failed to impeach President
Clinton for sexual activity, the Republicans usurped our power by
installing their president in a bloodless coup d’etat.
He sits in the White House shamelessly pushing his right-wing agenda
with no voter mandate whatsoever. He is there because five Supreme
Court justices appointed by presidents from his party, so-called
conservative strict constructionists, broke down the carefully constructed
edifice of separation of powers developed by our nation’s
founders and intervened where they had no business, overturning
a legitimate decision of the Florida Supreme Court and deciding
the votes would not be counted. “Those who vote decide nothing.
Those who count the votes decide everything.” Can anyone here
guess who said that? [Someone in the audience correctly attributed
it to Josef Stalin.]
We have not only lost the power to control whom we elect president.
We are also in danger of losing control over the painstaking work
we have done over the last thirty years to build an alternative
agriculture. Now the very standards by which we define the term
by which our movement is known: “organic”, are being
held hostage by the United States Department of Agriculture, an
agency which has never been the slightest friend of organics. MOFGA
Executive Director Russell Libby describes seeing USDA bureaucrats
in Washington who’d been there decades and not gotten out
to so much as see a farm or garden during their whole tenure. I
thought he was exaggerating until I read about the rule that would
require compost piles to be turned five times within a period of
fifteen days! The people who wrote that rule obviously have about
as much hands-on connection with farming as the judges who found
anything in the constitution that permitted them to stop the counting
of votes have with democracy!
Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, in announcing the
new standards, said “The organic label is a marketing tool.
It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’
a value judgment about nutrition or quality.” It’s about
marketing. It’s about money. It is about the rich getting
richer and the rest of us paying more for bureaucracy. It is about
making standards so the big farmers can capture international markets.
Why is the USDA suddenly so interested in organics after disdaining
it for years? Because organics was gaining too much market share.
I still remember the late Professor Fleming James, at our first
meeting of Civil Procedure class at law school. “What’s
the law about? It’s about ‘who pays!’” Being
children of the sixties and knowing that James had made his fame
as counsel for New Haven Railroad, we were all turned off. But,
whether we liked it or not, James was being totally candid.
I’d guess most of us here did not vote for Mr. Bush and most
of us would certainly not vote for the new organic standards. So
what is to be done? We must remember where we have been, think about
where we want to go, and why we are here today. Some in Maine have
mistakenly equated MOFGA’s success as an organization with
the numbers of certified growers. But our organizations are so much
more than that. Many of our supporters have never gotten certified,
and now probably more will choose not to. I’ve been growing
since 1973 and a MOFGA member since 1975 and I got certified for
only one year in all that time. In an ideal world, we don’t
even need certification. Because we would be marketing locally to
people who already know us and know our reputation. We are not about
exporting food and I hope we are not about shipping it long distances.
We should be building an infrastructure that reduces the distance
our food travels, that increases its freshness, that, in the words
of Russell Libby, promotes food with a face, a place and a taste.
We should be getting the word out about why organic food is more
wholesome, more nutritious, more tasty and more healthful. And we’ve
done a pretty darn good job of it over the past twenty years without
the benefit of national standards and without much help from the
USDA! That’s how we’ve built up that market share. And
so, if we go about continuing to do what we’ve been doing,
if we make the profound connections about soil, culture, food and
health, the power of truth, the power of common sense and the power
of superior taste will prevail!
In the final analysis, the USDA can take away the use of our word
“organic” but they cannot take away the foundations
and structure of our movement unless we allow them to. And if we
do a good job of educating, people are smart enough to know that
we’re a whole lot more than a name or a label. One of our
Maine sheep farmers suggested that from now on we use the word “Morganic.”
I loved it because it makes at least four very good puns.
I come today to talk to you about one of the very foundations of
good food: the seed. Today we stand in relation to the seed much
as we stood in relation to the soil a generation ago. We have spent
the last thirty years paying much attention to improving our soil
and improving our culture, but what have we done for the seed? Very
little. And while we largely ignored the seed, we lost awareness
and lost control of where it is coming from, just as we lost control
of our polity, and for many of the same reasons.
Russell Libby, who likes to hunt for old agricultural publications
in second hand bookstores recently shared with me a couple of the
treasures he’d unearthed. This [holds it up] is a Maine Extension
Bulletin dated December 1953, entitled Vegetable Varieties for
the Maine Home Garden. In it I found Northland, an extra early
sweet corn featuring 8 to 10 rows of golden kernels of good quality
developed by the Maine experiment station for northern and eastern
Maine, Highmoor a scab-resistant slicing cuke and Maine No. 2, a
scab-resistant pickler, both developed by the Maine Experiment Station.
Caserta, a summer squash with dwarf bush plants was developed at
the University of Connecticut. This one is a little booklet from
June 1957 called Breeding New Vegetable Varieties by famous
University of New Hampshire breeders Albert F. Yeager and Elwyn
M. Meader. In it they describe their work in breeding Greencrop,
which won an All-America award in 1957 and is still offered by Fedco
and many other seed companies. They tell of trying to produce a
wax pole bean with the quality of Kentucky Wonder. They make my
mouth water with New Hampshire Giant Bean, at 10-11 inches long
which “may be the largest podded stringless green bush bean
having white seeds that is available in the seed trade. Its greatest
appeal is to home gardeners.” Makes me want to search to see
if it still exists. They tell of developing the Sweetheart Beet,
a cross between Detroit Dark Red beet and U.S. #225 sugar beet that
one of our customers has recommended but I can’t find a commercial
source, and one seed saver from Arkansas may be the only person
keeping it from becoming extinct! And way back then they were working
on developing a purple podded shell pea, a red brussels sprout (Rubine,
the only one on the market now has too long a season for northern
New England) and a Table-Queen type bush acorn squash with naked
edible seeds, all projects with obvious appeal for home gardeners
and small market growers. My point is that seed breeding was a regular
feature at the land grant universities—each had its own program
adapted to its area of the country. Collegiality and cooperation
among plant breeders was regularly practiced, material was shared
freely. Today, New Hampshire still has such a program. Dr. Brent
Loy has bred several varieties Fedco sells including Passport and
Earliqueen melons and Snack Jack edible-seeded pumpkin. But Loy
is one of only a handful of conventional plant breeders still remaining
in the country. Maine’s program is long-gone. Anyone know
if UConn is still doing any breeding work? [“Very little is
being done,” was the response from someone in the audience.]
From Royalty Purple Pod bean to Reliance Peach, Meader developed
scores of varieties for the garden and orchard. Many came after
he retired from the University of New Hampshire in 1966, yet he
never sought patents or royalties for his creations and never made
a penny on them. “I was working for the taxpayer he said,
and the results of my work belonged to them.” A deeply religious
Quaker, Meader called his work “his payment for his space
on the planet.” Yes, a man of character and a character, too.
He eschewed the chain saw, cutting his six cords of firewood annually
with a bow and cross-cut saw which he filed himself. He encouraged
the wave of homesteaders, but disdained the television, adding curtly,
“If you can’t make it without bringing along your tv,
you’d better forget the whole thing.” He allowed that
naming the Meader persimmon after him was appropriate because “unripe
persimmons can be puckery.” At one point in the 1950s Meader
refused to serve on any university committees asserting that “a
committee of one works best.” Yet his collaboration with Yeager
produced amazing results and his cooperation with plant breeders
throughout the world was legendary. Meader never got his PhD (though
he was awarded one emeritus) and never taught formal classes, insisting
that he had been hired strictly as a plant breeder, yet he entertained
streams of visitors at his farm and a visit was worth at least a
half day because he had so much to share. Fedco Trees still works
closely with his son John.
In 1980 the US Supreme Court ruled in Diamond vs. Chakrabarty that
genetically engineered organisms constitute patentable matter and
awarded a scientist a utility patent for an engineered microbe.
A utility patent is incredibly broad: it protects the variety, the
specific genes associated with the variety and the mechanism used
to produce the variety. The decision ushered in a devastating change
in the nature of crop research by providing a commercial basis for
the biotechnology revolution in agriculture. Collegiality and free
exchange among plant breeders gave way to secrecy and complex licensing
and patenting agreements. Intellectual property rights had a chilling
effect on the free exchange of information and germplasm. The Technology
Transfer Act of 1986 enabled the USDA to collude with giant corporations
in private profit-making enterprises, such as the infamous Terminator
Technology. Yeager and Meader were breeding primarily for home gardeners
and small growers. Almost no one breeds for them any more. Classical
plant breeding has been replaced by genetic engineering.
Free exchange of seed among farmers has been the basis of maintaining
biodiversity and seed security. Free exchange of ideas and knowledge
of culture and heritage went along with free exchange of seeds.
Over 10,000 years farmers in India evolved 30,000 varieties of rice.
By 1992 only twelve covered 75% of the rice fields in India and
just one accounted for 65% of the paddy land in Southeast Asia.
The high cost of research in biotechnology has driven a spate of
mergers, consolidating the seed industry into a narrow oligopoly.
Today just five companies control 75% of the global vegetable seed
trade, and one of these, Seminis, 40% of the North American market.
Seminis is in serious economic trouble, bloated from its inability
to digest the results of its mergermania. It has been laying off
plant breeders and recently dropped 2,000 varieties from its product
line—one fourth of its entire line!
The foundation of the world’s food supply is almost as heavily
concentrated as the seed industry. Of 7000 plants farmed or used
for food, just 30 species provide 90% of the world’s caloric
intake, only eight make up 75% of what we eat and just four most
of the calories and proteins consumed by the world population through
global trade. 97% of vegetable and fruit varieties available in
the US in 1900 were lost in the twentieth century. Genetic diversity
is evaporating twice as fast as the tropical rainforest! As corporations
claim intellectual property rights on seeds, they are hijacking
centuries of collective innovation by farmers and peasants, who
are in turn reacting angrily to lock up their germplasm storehouses
before the corporate exploiters steal them blind. The bottom has
literally fallen out of the scientific exchange of germplasm according
to the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, a Rome-based
body charged with conserving crop germplasm and encouraging its
Biotechnology is even more heavily concentrated. In 1999 just 5
companies had a 99% market share with 80% belonging to Monsanto
and 8% to Aventis, architects of the Starlink corn scandal. 98%
of the acreage was in just three countries and almost all was concentrated
on just 4 crops. 73% of the crops were modified for herbicide tolerance,
virtually a continuation of chemical agriculture monoculture, 22%
incorporated insect resistance, and 5% were stacked between these
two traits. All other traits accounted for less than 1%. The biotech
culture is itself totally lacking in biodiversity, from the lack
of diversity in cultural traits to a lack of diversity in who shares
the market to an incredible lack of diversity in the range of cultivars
being modified and where they are being grown!
We should be concerned about this lack of diversity because it already
affects us as farmers and will even more in the future. Many of
the varieties in the Fedco catalog have only one source. We have
over the years seen one variety after another disappear from the
trade when it was dropped by its only source—from Bravo broccoli
to Southport Red onion to Platinum Lady sweet corn. We are excessively
dependent on a few huge suppliers. Fedco has purchased 45 different
varieties so far this year from Seminis, and 17 more from biotech
giant Novartis, now evolved into Syngenta. Most of these are one-source
varieties, mostly hybrids which are proprietary secrets not accessible
to anyone else. As the conglomerates become more deeply committed
to genetically engineered varieties, and believe me, that’s
where they are headed, they will drop more and more of the varieties
we depend on, or else alter them so they are available only genetically
modified. Even if they keep our commercial mainstays, we at Fedco
and other retail seed companies are going to be increasingly confronted
by mercenary dealer contracts such as the one I’m reading
from now: “The buyer agrees not to use the products for multiplication,
propagation or reproduction purposes. Buyer agrees not to resell
the products unless this restriction is imposed on any subsequent
buyer of the products.” In other words, we are not allowed
to save or multiply or sell seed of the variety and we are not allowed
to sell to any of our customers who want to save or multiply or
sell the seed. Fedco might agree to the first clause, we would never
agree to the second because we believe that you should be able to
do what you want with the seed we sell. If you want to save it and
multiply it, more power to you!
As fellow Mainer Will Bonsall so eloquently pointed out in his keynote
speech to the New York NOFA Conference in January a year ago, some
things you just don’t get any kicks from having anybody else
do for you. And as an example, he mentioned sex. Now seeds are all
about sex, the sexual reproduction of plants. Will was partially
joking, but I’ve thought a lot about what he said and he is
right. When I came to Maine 28 years ago I couldn’t hammer
an eightpenny nail in straight and yet I built my own 22x20 hippie
cabin. I am not very patient with things like carpentry which require
extreme precision, and at times it was very difficult if not excruciating,
and I frequently used language that I would not repeat before you
today, yet I wouldn’t trade the experience of building my
own house for anything. Certain basic necessities like food, sex
and shelter are so fundamental that we cannot be satisfied to leave
them to others. Food is at the center of our health, and our cultural
and spiritual relationships. We speak of breaking bread. It is sacred
to many of us. More than the satisfaction of providing for our own
needs, an even more compelling reason why we must regain control
over the food we eat is the same reason why we have local school
boards. My mother, who served on her school board for years used
to say that schools and education were too important to be left
to administrators and professional educators. So I say that food
is too important to be left in the hands of giant corporations.
If we continue to allow them to control our food supply we cannot
be a free people. NOFA stands as an organization of state food boards
and we need local food boards just as we need local school boards.
Bonsall, for all his joking, stood at the crux of an even more fundamental
truth. Plants are sentient beings, sexual beings. The fundamental
difference between classical plant breeders and genetic engineers
is that classical breeders work holistically with the sexual reproduction
of plants. Genetic engineers bypass the sexuality of plants by mechanically
transferring isolated genes from organisms (often unrelated organisms)
to host plants. In so doing they create life forms that would never
occur in nature without human intervention. We would call a human
being mating with a bull monstrous. Is a fish gene inserted into
a tomato any less monstrous? Isn’t it a form of ultimate arrogance
to believe we can improve on nature’s designs? To risk a cooperative
relationship with plants that has evolved for thousands and thousands
of years without which we could not survive? These experiments are
not confined to any laboratory. These are biological experiments
without boundaries, time limits or controls. They create life forms
which reproduce, which cannot be recalled, restricted or controlled.
The whole Earth is their laboratory.
Yet many of these genetic engineers would call themselves conservatives,
just as do many of the politicians who have railroaded the technology
through without any safeguards, just as do the judges who played
fast and loose with our constitution. But now we must reclaim the
word conservative, take it back from those who long ago hijacked
it and restore it to its true place. To understand what conservative
is we must first understand what it is not. It is not about the
unfettered opportunity for the few to amass wealth at the expense
of the many. It is not about the unchecked exploitation of natural
resource for the benefit of the few at the expense of future generations,
and it is not about preaching “family values” while
pursuing policies which tear families all over the world asunder.
It is not about conducting unprecedented biological experiments
with our own citizens as the primary guinea pigs, it is not about
the private ownership and patenting of genes that rightfully belong
to the commons of all living beings, and it is not about good food
for those who can afford it and junk food for all the rest. It is
about the conservation of precious resources, the respect of cherished
values and the preservation of our genetic inheritance. Who could
be more conservative than the organic farmer who faithfully builds
his/her soil, patiently learns and practices his/her craft and carefully
intertwines matter and spirit into a whole enterprise with integrity?
Who is more conservative than the savers and preservers of the best
open-pollinated seed varieties, strains which are the products of
ten thousand years of observation and crop improvement? We must
take back our heritage while we still have time. And it all begins
with the seed.
And it begins with language. In popular language going to seed has
a negative connotation and a seedy character is someone who has
seen better days. Yet the goal of most living beings is to reproduce
sexually. It is a plant’s destiny to go to seed, to complete
the cycle of death and rebirth. And once you overcome your cultural
prejudices nothing is so beautiful as a garden of plants which you
have allowed to go to seed. Don’t take my word for it. Try
it. I hope it starts you on the adventure to become a seed saver.
If we want to free ourselves from the tyranny of the giant corporations
we must become seed savers. Start by beginning to free yourselves
from the hybrid habit. Hybrid plants do not reproduce true to type.
Their seeds will not reproduce the same variety. Hybrids bring you
back to the seed company year after year for new seed.
The big seed wholesalers like that just fine. They have been replacing
open-pollinated varieties with hybrids for the past two generations.
Open-pollinated varieties will come true to type. You can save seed
from them and get the same variety the next year. Most of our great
open-pollinated varieties started as genetic sports in the field
or as products of deliberate farmer breeding. They were then completed
by farmers, stabilized so that their seed would reproduce true-to-type
year after year. Think of hybrids as incomplete varieties which
have never been stabilized. The big seed wholesalers have an economic
disincentive to complete them because they want you to be dependent.
They will use any means fair or foul to keep you dependent. If the
glitter of the high-yielding hybrids is insufficient to lure you,
they’ll stick language in the contracts such as the one I
read. If that doesn’t do it, they are working on terminator
technologies which will render any seed saved from their varieties
sterile in the next generation!
The hybrid habit is hard to kick because little work has been done
on breeding, improving or even maintaining open-pollinated varieties
for many years. Those of you dependent for your living on having
the earliest melons or raising unblemished tomatoes will not be
able to go cold turkey or you will suffer from delirium tremens
at your markets. But we can begin. Experiment with promising open-pollinated
varieties. Do some modest variety trials on your own. Begin to replace
a few hybrids each year with the best op varieties you can find.
At the same time educate your customers about what constitutes quality.
Let them taste heirloom tomatoes and learn that quality is more
than just a pretty face.
Support the scores of alternative seed companies that have sprouted
up in the last generation who are researching the old varieties
to fill the glaring gaps in our lineup of good open-pollinated varieties.
Do you have seed or know of seed for an old variety that has been
handed down? Get it into the Seed Savers Exchange (an organization
of more than 1,000 seed savers preserving more than 11,000 varieties)
or send a few trial samples to your favorite seed companies. Do
you know of good old varieties not readily available in the catalogs?
Let your favorite small seed supplier know about them.
Better yet, become a seed saver. Save seeds from
varieties you like. Pass them on to friends. Join the Seed Savers
Exchange and adopt a few varieties to preserve. That’s what
Kent and Diane Whealy did 25 years ago when they started the Exchange
with three varieties Kent’s grandfather had left him. Because
seeds, like money, are energy. Like money, when they accumulate
and concentrate in a few hands it is a sign of social disease. When
they circulate freely and are regrown widely it is a sign of social
health. If you want to get started seed saving Rob Johnston has
a great little book called Growing Garden Seeds for all
of $2.50. He hasn’t increased the price in at least twenty
years. If that whets your appetite, and you want to go in more deeply,
Seed to Seed is the bible. I have a few with me at the
When you save seeds you become aware of a whole
other facet of a plant’s being. You may notice some variation
in your plantings. Maybe a few plants are setting fruit earlier
or making bigger paste tomatoes or just a little more tolerant of
cold nights. That may lead you irresistibly to selection. You might
be able to select seeds from the plants exhibiting one or more of
these interesting characteristics to improve the variety you love.
And once you get interested in selection you’re on your way
to becoming a plant breeder. Now there’s a great deal of mystification
about all this, just as there is about any profession (my favorite
doctrine in law school was res ipsa locutor which simply
means “the thing speaks for itself”, thus a fancy Latin
phrase which says almost nothing!!) but fortunately along comes
Carol Deppe, a true heroine of our time, to take the bewilderment
out of plant breeding. And her wonderful book, Breed Your Own
Vegetable Varieties, (and I also brought a few of these) makes
the science simple enough for anyone to understand and can start
you on your way. Now you’re not only a grower of food, but
also a grower of seeds, not only a grower of seeds but also a developer
of new kinds of seeds and new varieties. Farmers have been doing
it for thousands of years, they set the tradition, they defined
the norms, it is the Monsantos who are usurpers on the block. Besides,
it’s fun and it might be more interesting to you to start
looking at the qualities of plants than producing large quantities
of the same plant and more interesting still to engage in dynamic
interaction with the sexuality of plants, to become a cocreator
rather than an overseer of many rows of the same variety.
Still not convinced? Let me introduce you to a few more seedy characters.
Glenn Drowns in Iowa has the Sand Hill Preservation Center. His
catalog is like no others. By the time you have read his 2-page
introduction you feel that you know him and his family. Deeply religious,
he alternately tells stories of disasters and uplifting moments
his family experienced in the past year, liberally interspersed
with biblical scripture to draw the proper morals. You would never
find this in any of the glossy slick color catalogs put out by mainstream
seed vendors. A child prodigy, he bred Blacktail Mountain Watermelon
while he was still a teenager. Blacktail is one of the earliest
and longest keeping watermelons. Drowns has hundreds of vegetable
varieties in his catalog that you won’t find elsewhere, but
he grows over 90% of the items he lists on his own farm and they
come in and out of the catalog according to the vicissitudes of
his fortunes. “Please remember that we don’t discontinue
varieties, but the nature of our company means that we will have
temporary crop failures…” he trumpets in all capital
letters so you can’t miss it. Then goes on to say, “Please
don’t interpret a crop failure as a varietal weakness. We
have so many projects that sometimes things such as lack of hours
in the day, rodents, late plantings, weather, can ruin a seed crop.”
Refreshing honesty. He is also a poultry preservationist and the
place you would go to find Silver Penciled Wyandottes and other
rare breeds. In his spare time Drowns teaches high school science.
Across the country in Oregon is Frank Morton, photographer, archer,
homeschooler and practitioner of farming like a meadow. His work
is oft-featured in our catalog. An artist at mixing leafy edibles,
Morton has bred a long list of gorgeous tasty designer greens from
Antares, Hyper Rumpled Red and Blushed Butter Oak lettuces to Wrinkled
Crinkled Cress, White Russian Kale and a breathtaking array of broccoli
x flowering kale crosses in which he is still mixing textures and
colors in his gene pools. Morton, possessing a surpassing love for
watermelon at age 5, realized that the only way to have all the
watermelon he wanted was to grow it himself so he planted his freshly
spit out watermelon seeds in the middle of August into hardpan West
Virginia clay. “I insist on proceeding with unpromising projects,”
he wrote in a letter to me in 1997 “…I imagine that
the most satisfying life is one where we create our own wealth on
our own terms. I knew, somehow, at age 5, that farming would give
me whatever I wanted most. So for 17 years now I’ve been practicing
this art of making a life out of what moves me from the inside,
and for the past seven years (I guess, by now, 10 years), Karen
and I have been passing this impulse on to our kids.” Morton
says seeds are among the best deals in nature and to be involved
in their production, handling and sowing is to yield a powerful
influence over an agroecology. He’d rather be part of such
a community than be master of it, and finds stabilizing a variety
not nearly so interesting as mixing them up. He is most proud of
the acceptance of several of his genetically diverse gene pools
into the seed trade. He hopes that gardeners will be inspired to
select their favorite forms from these gene pools, giving rise to
new local varieties in diverse climates around the country. Fedco
is one of a consortium of small seed companies, none of whom could
afford to hire a plant breeder on their own, who are helping to
underwrite Morton’s breeding work.
It is through the work of these deeply intuitive seedpeople, the
Meaders, Whealys, Johnstons, Deppes, Drowns and Mortons that each
of us can draw inspiration for a very different future from the
one Monsanto plans for us. They are among the architects of an alternative
seed production that will in time be the foundation of our alternative
food production. Their work is our work, too.
How can we best support this work? By continuing in our exalted
calling as small farmers…(Sam Smith of Caretaker Farm in Massachusetts
has a wonderful essay called “The Human as Small Farmer”
in which he uses that term ‘exalted’) by continuing
our restoration of the Earth, serving and preserving the Garden.
By awakening our own capacity to be seed sowers, seed growers, and
seed breeders, and, like Frank Morton, by working with what moves
us from the inside.
Let me close with this quote from Rav Kook who was chief rabbi of
Israel in the 1940s and 1950s
The Perfection of Life that will Unfold
Sexual desire streams into the future,
To the completion of life that time will bring:
The life of the world-to-come within this world.
That future life is filled with complete beauty and pleasure.
There exists a precious strategy whose goal is to rectify
This holy foundation,
to turn sexuality and its essential offshoots
To the holy goal of life.
That strategy is the cornerstone of all spiritual strivings,
It establishes the world of humanity,
Both internal and external.
Thus, great is the yearning and the strength of desire
of the sexual energy, which is all-encompassing;
Only upon this energy does ultimate holiness rest its light.They
can take away our votes but they cannot take away our truth. Knowing
that our work is right at the heart of our relationship with all
living beings, let us go forth to continue and strengthen what we