Michio Kushi Memorial Service Speeches – Dennis Kucinich
This post is part of a series presenting full transcripts of speeches given at the Michio Kushi Memorial Service in Boston on January 31, 2015.
Good afternoon. To Midori and the Kushi Family, to the members of the Kushi Institute and all of the Kushi organizations who are represented here worldwide – this gathering is really a testament to Michio Kushi’s impact on the world
I’m Dennis Kucinich and I first met Michio Kushi thirty years ago when he and Aveline made an extraordinary presentation about diet and nutrition at a church in the Cleveland area. Their insight about the relationship between physiognomy and health and dietary habits regaled that audience with the consequences of literally becoming what you eat, if you ate a lot of chicken, pork and other animal products.
As Michio and Aveline made their presentation and dramatically would extend their stomachs, as if to say, you eat a lot of cow products you’re going to have a big stomach. If you eat a lot of chicken you may end up with certain tendencies. Well as they made this presentation you saw the audience squirming in the nakedness of the anthropomorphic implications of appetites, speculating about the diet of the stranger sitting next to them, imagining human beings presenting subtly as barnyard animals. It was a moment of high humor worthy of James Thurber’s “A Thurber Carnival”, where animals acquired human traits. Michio and Aveline had made their point: You are what you eat, so take care.
Michio Kushi, perhaps better than anyone in the last century, understood the transformational and redemptive power of food, its relationship to personal health, environmental integrity and world peace. His East-West apostolate was a commitment to the transcendent power immanent in every moment, the communion of spirit and matter, yin and yang, which made the partaking of food a holy sacrament of divine nourishment of the temple of self.
Michio Kushi understood the condition of inner harmony of mind, body and spirit arrived at through the macrobiotic diet came from a quickening of vibration and light as the substance of food united with the person consuming it. Knowing that what is innermost becomes outermost, Michio Kushi took the theory of the unity of matter to a higher spiritual expression, that of human unity, that we are all one, interdependent, interconnected across an infinity of time and space.
The potential for human unity came from each individual taking responsibility for his or her own health, pursuing the diet of a compassionate, non-violent harvest, respecting, preserving all which inhabit the natural world from harm and so achieving the reconciliation with the natural world which the philosopher Thomas Berry said is the great work of our lives.
The great work of Michio Kushi’s life was to raise the consciousness of the world about the power of food, the essentiality of dietary choices, the path toward health which strengthens the body and liberates the spirit.
At this moment in human history where the biosphere is threatened by short-sighted agricultural policies which selfishly waste precious water resources, poison the land, befoul the air, pollute gene pools, it is the gentle spirit of Michio Kushi, which can lead us back towards a Garden Eden filled with fruits, vegetables and grains from the cornucopia of life, where all are fed and all live in harmony, and thus we can turn the myth of the Fall of Man into an At-One-Ment, a celebration of return to Grace, the achievement of Enlightenment – – One Peaceful World.
This was the vision of Michio Kushi, now it is his legacy, to be resurrected by us to help save the planet from destruction. To save it with regenerative agriculture, agro-ecological principles, plant-based diets and the rejection of war as an instrument of policy.
We who were privileged to share a day or blessed to share a lifetime with Michio knew his genius rested upon simplicity of thinking, of personal habit, of living, of eating. His gift for clarity enabled breakthrough thinking which accelerated evolutionary thought in human health, ushering in new insights into medicine and healing.
Michio Kushi’s philosophy and writings helped to make what was once called Alternative Medicine, mainstream. His partnership with Alex Jack produced world-acclaimed texts on disease prevention and the achievement of total health, principles which are now a bedrock of integrative medicine.
Michio’s message was not simply about the wholeness of food, it was about the wholeness of life: You do not have to suffer, you can live, enjoy a long life, and be happy. For some this may seem cliché, but for Michio Kushi, the attainment of health, happiness and inner peace was in fact a goal of life, as was love, the love of his family, especially his beloved partner and wife, Aveline.
And when Aveline passed, Michio faced a great crisis because his love was no longer with him on his journey. Those who knew him know that his health began to suffer. His vital energy waned. Then he met Midori and he was revitalized, summoned back to life. Through Midori he reclaimed his own spark of light and love, which he carried forth to his final days.
In 1999, I had the honor of welcoming Michio and Aveline Kushi to Washington, DC, at the celebration of the acquisition of their collection by the Smithsonian. A few days later, I introduced Michio Kushi to a major committee of the House of Representatives where he testified how a macrobiotic diet could be a powerful therapy for women suffering from certain types of cancer. As he concluded his testimony he added, joyfully, disease prevention or recovery could be enhanced by singing a happy song, every day. And he gave the Congressional Committee and example like “You are My Sunshine.”
So, let us take his wisdom, and at this moment call forth that expressive power of his joy. Please join me, if you wish, oh yes, in singing just a few lines from Michio’s happy song, “You are My Sunshine” and let’s sing a few lines to Michio:
“You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine,
You make me happy,
When skies are grey.
You’ll never know dear,
How much I love you,
Please don’t take
My sunshine away.”
Our lives will forever be warmed by the mere thought of you, dear Michio.
We abide in your light and your light abides in us. Thank you.