Our Youngest Sympathizer

If you attended the refugee rights protest in Portland last year, you may have seen A., my elder kid. This morning we got into a conversation occasioned by her looking at a magazine article about neonicotinoids:

“What is a neon-ick-ot-in-oid?”
“It’s a kind of pesticide that’s also poisonous to bees.”
“That’s horrible! We should just build a big wall around it.”
“Well, some people are trying to get them banned. It doesn’t make much sense, killing the bugs that eat your plants but also killing the ones that pollinate them.”
“We should tell the workers in the factories that make the neonicotinoids what they’re doing to the bees and then they’ll go on strike and tell the bosses of the factory that they don’t want to make something so poisonous any more.”
“That would be a very effective way of stopping it. Unfortunately, it’s not what’s happening.”
“What is happening?”
“When people try to ban them in a town or a city or a state, the company bosses spend a lot of money to lie and say, ‘Oh, we don’t really know it’s hurting the bees. It’s not fair to pick on us and ban our chemical.’ And the workers in the factory either don’t know, or they’re so desperate for jobs that they keep working there.”
“That’s horrible. There should be new jobs for those workers with good conditions that are clean and organic and don’t make things that destroy the earth.”
“I agree. It’s probably not safe working in a chemical factory. There are probably lots of poisonous chemicals that are bad for people as well as bees.”
“Which would be a better job, African Elephant biologist [her current career choice] or factory worker?”
“Probably biologist.”
“Yeah, factory worker is a very difficult job. Especially a long time ago when there was child labor.”
“There is still child labor in some countries.”
“There is? That’s horrible! We should get rid of it all over the world! I’m going to make a protest sign!”
“Sounds like a good idea.”
“What should I make it about, neonicotinoids or child labor?”
“They’re both pretty important issues.”
“Which is more widespread?”
“They’re both pretty widespread.”
“Well, maybe I can identify more with child labor since I’m a child.”
“You’re also a person who eats foods that bees pollinate.”

Ultimately, unable to decide, she went with a different issue entirely, homelessness. Putting the web address for the Socialist Caucus of Maine on the bottom of the sign was her idea, not mine.


Text reads: “Give homeless people a home! Some people do not share your good fortune! MAKE HOUSES FREE!”

– Joseph


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