Burning and Looting, 21st Century Version

May, 2017

Berlin -- The city survived another May Day (Labor Day in Germany) without burning and looting. Some demonstrators brought their own canned smoke, which is progress compared to the riots of previous years. This was the 30th anniversary of the worst of the excesses, when arson and plundering prevailed in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Around Mariannenplatz this year all was festive with many children especially delighted to get big, animal-shaped balloons from vendors. Turkish families and organizations provided dozens of tables of food up and down Oranienstrasse and several other streets, which were turned over to pedestrians. No cars in sight: less temptation for trouble-makers to overturn vehicles and set them on fire.

A more meaningful event, to me, was held two days before on Petersburgerplatz in nearby Friedrichshain, where a few hundred people gathered to protest the Bayer-Monsanto merger. It was organized by farmers, bakers, bee-keepers, and environmentalists. Some in the crowd wore bee costumes; one man came as a bear (to show love for honey, presumably). I joined the marchers as they proceeded down the boulevard toward Frankfurter Tor.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln daily newspaper reports an effort to save monarch butterflies and other pollinators by planting milkweed, but treads lightly on who and what is killing the pollinators off. That would be, in significant part, the Bayers and Monsantos of the world. It will take more than planting milkweed for pollinators to recover, and more than using pesticides and herbicides carefully as directed, as this and other such articles always advise. It is the ubiquitous use of these products that is the problem, not a matter of following application directions. This is the issue that must be faced. We are burning and looting our natural resources.