Radical Integrity

monsoon skyOur recent storms stirred up the skies.  They brought much needed rains, playground mud, and a surplus of new weeds to extract from the garden.  The storms brought cooler temperatures, extraordinary clouds and a hint that autumn is a possibility.  Summer is becoming more of a memory every day.  Life has felt stirred up in other ways, too.

For reasons I’m not quite yet able to identify, it seems like the planet and many of its inhabitants are on hyper-alert/stress mode.  At school I see hard working parents rushing off to do their jobs and hurrying back to pick up their children at the end of the day.  I see beautiful children struggling with an array of health issues and worries, and teachers who are trying to gracefully balance the responsibility of work and family.  When I’m teaching yoga I notice sincere students showing up on their mats with life’s burdens expressed through their tired, aching bodies.  On the news there is hourly reporting pending war in Syria and scrambling by world leaders to find a more peaceful solution to growing tensions.  And there is the memory of 9-11 that hits us hardest this time of year.

I’ve had my own inner storms, too.  In the last few weeks since we launched our seedfood curriculum, and particularly took a stance on the GMO issue, my mind has been a whirlwind of questions, reflections and considerations.  I’m grateful to all of the parents and colleagues who have brought a wide range of insights on the matter to my attention.  Sorting through the information coming my way, I’ve realized it’s a highly complex situation with no easy answers.  Being a peacemaker at heart, I struggle to find the middle ground that honors science as well as our bodies and the food that sustains us.

While discussing this with Emily, one of our teachers, we talked about the nature of the Seed to always strive to be on the cutting edge, to be radical in our approach to education.  Years ago I realized that what we do at the school is work in possibilities and part of my work is to keep thinking of those possibilities.  As our conversation about what it means to be radical continued, I added that it’s also been important to do what we do with integrity.  Emily said, “Radical integrity.”  As soon as the words came out of her mouth I felt their impact.  Radical integrity is how I’ve tried to live my life, especially as the leader of a school.  Radical integrity is also why the GMO situation has created such a stir and why I’m especially feeling the weight of responsibility regarding how we approach it at the Seed.  I can’t say that I have any more clarity about it than I did a week or two ago.  What I can do is continue looking at the situation with an open mind and heart, deciding what truths I want to live by and guide our Seed families toward.  What is true to me is that we want to raise healthy children, feeding them food that has the maximum nutritional value.  Additionally, what is true is that healthy dialogue needs to be part of the process so our decisions for ourselves and our children have a long lasting benefit for our planet and all of its life forms.  I can think of no time when such conversation matters more.

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