At dinner just 48 hours ago, my principal concern was whether to order the “Mongolian BBQ Duck Buns”, “Devils on Horseback”, or “Scallops a la Plancha”, at Linger. We ordered all three of course, with “Caramel Crème Brûlée” to boot.
Today, on day two of my advocacy with “25 in Change”, I stare into a small red cup filled with garbanzo beans, brown rice, a bit of vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt. And with every bite, I meditate on what I couldn’t see before, on hearing what I couldn’t before, and certainly on feeling what I couldn’t feel before.
How am I to feel, knowing that some 805 million (about one in nine) people in the world don’t have enough food to lead a healthy active life? Or, that poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year? It’s numbing to consider that our global state of malnutrition kills more people than war, natural disasters, murder, AIDS, TB, and malaria, combined.
Global hunger in a world of food perpetuates a double injustice: it robs hungry people of food, and leaves those of us who have it (in our inability to understand how people are starving to death when Mongolian BBQ Duck Buns are so easy to obtain) with a paralysis to act. The injustice paralyzes all of us, like deer caught in headlights – The driver being surprised by the deer, not knowing what to do, and the deer watching bright lights approach, unaware of the rapidly impending collision.
If only the Snickers’ “Hungry?” commercial worked both ways in this food injustice, that I could go fully Hulk and become “hangry” enough to make an epic difference. “Sunny smash hunger”. But alas, I’m stuck as Bruce Banner with Creme Brûlée on my breath.
The truth is, I can’t become The Hulk and smash hunger. But I can work to develop habits of fighting my own indifference. I can take a good look in the mirror, I can get “hangry” at the injustice of it all, and I can be a voice for others to follow suit to actually make a difference. In response to our appalling state of world hunger, I find myself “hangrier” than ever. And in turn, I stand in solidarity with the hungry children of Haiti, as I refuse to eat until they do.
“25 in Change” separates us from the world enough to bring light to its brokenness, and at the very same time, brings us in deeper union with the hungry fellow human beings that occupy it. It’s my prayer that in and through Him, we might use these 25 days to rise together as a symbol of hope in the midst of a hungry world.
As Henri Nouwen suggests, we may find that as we feed the hungry, the hungry “give food to us”.