That last piece about food got me thinking more about food… Instead of ruminating further on our fatness, let’s discuss the more serious predicament of those without enough food to eat.
I’ll never forget an incident I witnessed in India several years ago that forced me to reinterpret my view of poverty, hunger and the world in general.
We were in the state of Andhra Pradesh (my favorite Pradesh! Sorry Uttar ;)), visiting a small farming village that would not have looked out of place 500 years ago – cell phones and archaic-looking power lines notwithstanding. It seemed about 200 degrees, with stifling humidity. All the homes were made with mud and had roofs of thatched foliage. The treeless, arid landscape was filled with sorry looking crops. There was no sign of water. Most people we saw looked very skinny and hungry; the water buffalos, goats and dogs didn’t look much better.
After visiting a local resident, as we started driving away in our air-conditioned van, we saw a man light himself on fire. As our driver slammed on the brakes, a fast-acting member of our team jumped out of the car and tried to extinguish the flames. Once the fire was put out and a crowd started to gather and call for help, we drove away.
I don’t know what happened to the man who set himself on fire, or anything about the circumstances that led to the incident. Perhaps it was a “political act,” or some sort of drastic appeal for justice, but it seems more likely that he was just a person driven to extremes by the burdens of poverty.
Since witnessing this, I’ve felt more compelled to at least try to remember to care about those who are hungry and desperate. But it’s not easy. You’d think that eating all the time would make it easier to care about the hungry, but we’re shockingly selfish creatures that require constant motivation and prodding to act on behalf of others.
That said, this opens up big questions as to what our role and responsibility should be in terms of helping the hungry. Is “my neighbor” my immediate circle, someone in my actual neighborhood, state or country? That homeless guy over there? What about famine victims overseas? The World Food Programme estimates there are just under a billion hungry people in the world. A billion!
Of course we can’t help everyone, but it’s easier than ever to help people locally or abroad. Whether your thing is cutting a check, dropping off food, or sustainable farming + whatnot, there are oodles of orgs out there that can at least help point you in the right direction. I encourage you to find an organization that seems helpful, or to share your bread with someone in need.
Everyone deserves to eat!
Some links (feel free to send along more you feel are doing a good job):