Hunger and Everything Else

Those of us who have the luxury of savoring our food, instead of scraping just to get enough to survive, are extremely fortunate, indeed. Sometimes, when I’m in the midst of looking at recipes and thinking how delicious they might taste, I’m suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense of sadness and guilt. Here I am, over-fed and moderately happy, musing over how a spice might add a certain flavor to a protein, while somewhere nearby a person, maybe a child, is struggling to find barely enough food to stay alive. I don’t know if guilt is the right word. It’s shame, too; shame that I know hunger is a very real problem but that I’m doing very little to help solve it.

It’s not just about providing food to the hungry. It’s about teaching the unemployable the right skills so they can get a job and buy their own food. it’s about giving kids an education so they can escape the cycle of poverty into which they were born. It’s about convincing corporate overlords that a slight increase in shareholder profits is not a sufficient reason to shutter a factory and move somewhere else, leaving hundreds of people without work. It’s about persuading a grocery store chain to place a store in a “food desert.” There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of other actions that can be taken to alleviate the problem of hunger.

Hunger is just one of the maladies shaping our world. Pollution, climate change, violence, political instability, natural disasters. The list could go on for pages and pages. Thinking about all the problems that affect humanity and planet Earth can paralyze a person into absolute inaction; there are too many problems and not enough solutions…I’m just one person and I can’t have an impact on problems that are so much bigger than me.

Yes, but as I’ve been hearing on a regular basis on Sundays of late, “you can’t do everything, but you can do something.” I often encounter this quote, attributed to Paul Spear (an English comedian and actor), “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.” I’m trying this morning, but I still feel the shame of how little I’m doing in light of how much I know needs to be done.  I like the attitude the quote represents. I’ll try to adopt it if I can.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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