SATURDAY, MARCH 26TH IS THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST FOOD NOT
BOMBS SOUP LINE
The first Food Not Bombs collective dressed as hobos and shared soup
outside the stockholders meeting of the First National Bank of Boston
to protest their investment in Seabrook Nuclear Power Station.
Over 50 people came to share food and express concern about the dangers
of the nuclear industry.
It was the first sunny spring like day in Boston when eight young
anti-nuclear activists set up a "soup kitchen" outside the March 26,
1981 stockholders meeting of the First National Bank of Boston. Ronald
Reagan had just come to power promising to dismantle many of the
programs that had been benefiting average Americans transferring the
nation’s resources to his wealthy banker friends. We were attempting to
build popular support against the nuclear industry. We were seeking to
stop the board of directors from investing their depositor’s money on
risky and dangerous projects. Projects that could lead to nuclear
meltdowns, ecological collapse or as Reagan suggested, nuclear war. The
Board of directors of the Bank of Boston also sat on the board of
Babcock and Willcox, the company that was building Seabrook Nuclear
Power station and many of them also sat on the board of the Public
Service Company of New Hampshire who was buying the power station.
These bankers also profited from the nuclear weapons industry. Their
policy of lending themselves millions of dollars with little public
oversight was reminiscent of the bank practices that caused the Great
Depression in the 1930's. We decided to make that point visible by
dressing as hobos and setting up a soup line outside the annual
stockholders meeting of the bank. I was a produce worker and discarded
several cases of produce every morning so soup was an easy vehicle for
our protest. As we prepared tour huge pot of soup we became concerned
that there would not be enough people participating to represent a
Depression era soup line so I went sown to the Pine Street Inn and told
the assembled homeless that we were planning a protest at noon outside
the Federal Reserve Bank at South Station. They responded with
excitement about the protest. Even so we were surprised when over 50
people showed to partake of the first Food Not Bombs meal.
Thirty years later on March 26, 2011 I am about to send this book to
the publisher as the world is facing the most lethal nuclear disaster
since the atomic bombings of Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
station is on the verge of melting down. The global economy is in
crisis due to the policies of bankers investing for their own benefit.
Experts might call it the "Great Recession" but for billions of people
it feels more like a Great Depression is on the horizon. Bank executives
lobbied for deregulation, sold bad mortgages, reaped the profits letting
the economy collapse. Food prices are increasing at fastest pace in
thirty years as speculators move to invest in commodities.
A young Tunisian produce worker Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad Bouazizi set
himself on fire on December 17, 2010 fed up by police abuse and high
price of food sparking a global wave of uprisings. Those wealthy bankers
are seeking to squeeze every last cent out of an increasingly desperate
people. Hunger and cruelty of the super rich is sparking a global
uprising. The billionaires are responding by murdering their people.
The global revolt is spreading from Tunisia, Egypt, Oman, Libya,
Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria to China, Korea and the United States. People
are rising up from Wisconsin and Michigan to England, Iceland, Greece,
Croatia, and France. Replacing failed social structures with a
sustainable system maybe more difficult then over throwing governments.
But still there is an urgent desire to bring democracy, dignity, basic
necessities, if nothing else some sanity to our world.
The richest 2 percent already own over half the world's wealth and
resources. And they seem to want more even though nearly a billion
people go hungry each day. Are we really prepared to allow our last
penny to be delivered to the ruthless destroyers of our future? While
writing this book we saw unprecedented disasters stemming from the
public's cooperation with a mad political and economic system. We let
the billionaires lead us to this point. Too many of us bought their
products and their philosophy. The owners of BP continue to live in
spender after they commanded one of the world's worst oil gushers as do
the Wall Street executives
that plunged millions into unemployment, homelessness and hunger.
These mad men claim ownership of billions of suffering animals farmed in
factories, the genetics of our food seeds, acres of ancient forests,
gallons of fresh water, oil, gas and minerals all treated as products to
be sold to a world of consumers. Now we are a world of consumers
without money, shelter, food or dignity. Consuming war, radioactive
fallout, near slavery and toxic "food." What near apocalyptic event or
poverty inducing theft is in our future?
While ladling soup outside stockholders meeting we were concerned that
we could face a future of nuclear disasters, environmental catastrophes
and a global economic collapse. We urged those visiting our first Food
Not Bombs meal to join us in building resistance to the policies that
could bring ruin to our world. Our literature and speech invited them to
withhold their support of the "culture of death" and join us in
transforming society. Maybe by practicing democracy using consensus in
our groups or sowing hope and a feeling of abundance with our sharing of
vegan meals we would have some influence in our community. Thirty years
later it is clear that our concerns were well founded and the need for
change couldn't be more urgent.
What we could not have seen was that our tiny theatrical soup line
would be joined by thousands of others. Not only seeking to end their
own painful hunger but to join us in our effort to stop the web of
disastrous policies. Each crisis has inspired another wave of volunteers
eager to participate with Food Not Bombs. Eager to take a stand and feed
the hungry. Rushing to participate, having been forced into poverty or
inspired to insurrection by the untenable conditions. We are eager to
welcome you to our table. There is enough for everyone if we withdraw
our support for the system of exploitation and have the passion to
implement a nurturing community where everyone's ideas are respected.
Cultivate community and reap revolution. Cook for peace and transform
the world with food not bombs.