Day 262: Living with Hunger

September 18th, 2010

“Hunger also changes the world – when eating can’t be a habit, than neither can seeing” -Maxine Hong Kingston

As part of the observance of Yom Kippur, we fast. Bearing witness to hunger today and of how my thoughts were consumed by the visceral experience of physical emptiness made me recognize again the weight of the issue of world hunger. The statistics of the hungry are so overwhelming, so large are the numbers that the problem becomes faceless, just a great unnamed impersonal planetary issue that I can create distance from.

As I worked through my day hungry the issue took on a face. I realized how much less able my mind became as the day wore on and realized how the most starving countries in the world cannot break free of hunger, because they have nothing to nourish their thoughts. Hunger keeps people from their own good ideas. How can they think of solutions, or even frame the problem when all that they can hear is their empty belly?

For many, the empty belly is a hollow voice next to the diminishing cries of their babies, their future, wasting away from a hunger that is their existence. The abundance of food in life here is easy to take for granted. I felt ashamed of my biggest problem of not knowing what to make for dinner. I have heard myself complain of the huge amount of time that food acquisition and preparation takes in my life. How could I have lost my appreciation for sustenance?

I am befuddled by how we here can have the most incredible technology at our fingertips, phones that can do more than we can imagine, more than we could ever even learn to use, but we have no remarkable technology to meet this most basic of all human needs. Something is amiss.

The root of the holiday is the spiritual hunger to become a better version of oneself, to ask and accept forgiveness for all the places where we fall short in our human dealings. The base of all religions is the teaching that we are all one, our daily actions have a ripple effect that touches everyone. It doesn’t matter your religious book, the work in life is loving kindness. I always leave this holiday with a hunger to do more good in the world; to be the strongest force of love that I can muster.

Dwight Eisenhower warned, “Every gun that’s made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed…” We don’t have to look far. Right here within our own borders the number of people living in poverty and hungry is at it’s 15- year high. Today the positivity quest feels like a call to action. I just want to help feed the people. It will likely also fill me up in spirit.

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