Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Is All So Effing Relative

Today I read that 15 percent of US households experienced “food shortage” in 2009. That’s 17 million families, approximately 50 million people, including at least 17 million children. I try to get a grip on the number, but know only that it is staggering. I try for some perspective. I realize it is 13 million more people than live in the entire state of California. So, that would be every person living in the most populous state in our union, plus another 13 million. It’s 15 out of every 100 people, it’s 17 million, 17 million children. And that’s just in our country, the self-proclaimed richest country in the world.

It’s a horrible statistic and reality, one that makes me feel completely helpless, that makes me want to cry, and brings a flood of shame at how I complain about my life. It’s stone cold sobering, and it gives me huge pause. I have no idea how to digest it, much less write about it, much less rectify it with my own life; never mind writing a post about the miseries or revelries, the grief, depression, longings, celebrations, pettiness and pity of said life.

So, I’ll leave it at that. As I lay down to sleep in my comfy bed, in my warm, safe house, with cupboards and belly full of not just food, but good, organic, fresh, healthful food, I’ll think about how completely unfair life is. I’ll imagine what it must be like to live with “food insecurity” (great government term, isn’t it?), how it must feel to go to bed hungry, to get up hungry, to have to find my way to a church or community food bank and hope they’re open and pray they have food, to rock my child, hear her tummy growling, know she’s hungry and in pain, to wonder, to worry, to agonize over where our next food—any food, never mind what I like or prefer, never mind what might be good or healthful, how it might have been grown, what it might have been sprayed with—will come from; and know that I can't begin to imagine it, can't begin to imagine what it must be like to know true hunger, the pain of hunger, the fear of hunger, and not be able to go to the fridge or the pantry or the store; how I can't begin to imagine it when I can't even fathom it... when numbers like that fly beyond me because they are simply so inconceivable.

Fifty million people... and that's just here, in the "great" U S of A. Politics, religion, platforms, ideals, policies, debates aside, it's simply unconscionable. That food, along with air and water, the holy triad of what a body needs to survive, and beyond surviving to thrive, is not an unailiable right in this country that is so proud of its many unailiable, self-evident, natural, and universal rights.

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