Finding a way to stop another horror

by Morton Sosland
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Publishing and editing a magazine such as this requires understanding not just of the businesses that create grain-based foods, but also the ability to grasp the hugely varied but productive mindsets of the people responsible for all the industry’s elements. Similarly, recognizing the vast dimensions of the marketplace for the industry’s products and the variations in eating habits and preferences that affect demand mandates insights to understanding how different people influence the essential human task of eating. Defining the breadth of knowledge of the people accounting for these forces should make explaining human actions in nearly any endeavor relatively simple. Yet it leaves a gaping hole in accounting for what drove the person who carried out the recent massacre in Orlando, Florida, or any of the similar assaults that have recently impacted the United States and other developed nations.

As weird as it may seem to draw a parallel between what the array of gunmen were thinking and the forces that drive people in a basic industry like grain-based foods, it needs saying that all are human beings who have come to their roles as the result of experiences largely as American citizens. The forces that are often cited on these pages as being responsible for various industry events are not that different from experiences of anyone living life in this country. Sure, there is a huge range in the quality of family life as well as in education, in intra-personal relationships, and in behavior and moral matters. The role of religion is another matter that has at times been called significant, but it is infrequently cited as accounting for specific actions.

In searching for commonalities that may help in understanding why human beings engage in such horrible acts this page is struck, not surprisingly, by the power of bread and flour-based foods. That is particularly true in looking at the diets of countries that are central influences of the people involved. In the Middle East, which is often the original family home of people involved in these atrocities, flour-based foods hold the lead in diets. In times of war, where the region has been too long engaged, scenes are commonplace of long lines of people seeking bread. Soldiers are often depicted eating bread.

For many eras of existence bread has not just been an essential source of energy and nutrients, but a symbol of universal well-being, of progress and, yes, of peace. Nothing about the Orlando horrors has any tie to bread except for appreciating its widespread importance as the most popular food. It may be the time, in the aftermath of such tragedy, to point to bread not just as a symbol of peace, but even more important as symbolizing human relationships that leave no room for killing other human beings. Even suggesting this standing amidst the pain and horror of Orlando is no easy task, but one well worth pursuing by all committed to a world free of such atrocities.

Preventing future happenings with similar outcomes is very much the responsibility of governments. There’s nothing about the business of grain-based foods that would provide any answers except for repeating the point made in opening this piece — that no business better prepares its participants for dealing with a variety of people who may have strikingly different attitudes. Their goals though are widely shared, aiming to realize targets that include making, marketing and selling products that have won the positive acceptance of all people and all nations. The possibility should not be dismissed of an adequate supply of bread satisfying appetites to a degree that would halt fostering or encouraging killing of others. There was a time when “manna from heaven” worked wonders and brought about not just peace but prosperity and love. It may be unrealistic to pray now for manna, but one wonders if it’s not the best way of preventing a repeat of such horror.
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