Monday, December 31, 2007

Fighting a Different Kind of Terrorism

"More people have died as a consequence of hunger in the past 5 years than have been killed in all the wars, revolutions and murders in the past 150 years." - Bread For The World

Wow. That is just unreal, but apparently 16 million people die every year from hunger / malnutrition. I sit here, eating my apple, speaking of the virtues of eating locally (and organically), and others are simply without food.

I have come to realize that it doesn't have everything to do with us just having "enough" to give those in "need". There are systems, mechanisms, politics that would keep us from "alleviating poverty"...something that, at least in some ways, is a realistically possible idea.

I have never quite known what to do about this, what my part in the grand scheme of things ought to be, whether I should pray or give money or petition congress or support NGOs or what. I have tried all of those as well as relational redistribution, neighborliness. As a family (and now household), we continue to try to check out of the Industrial Food Machine which has left so many exploited and hungry. We have attempted to utilize the Fair Trade (or something like it) certification when we can. And I know this isn't perfect...sometimes these are merely new mechanisms that have their own hang-ups and downfalls.

I have tried living off less...but sometimes that can be hard to get behind philosophically. Still, I just ordered 3 cases of wine for the new year. What hypocrisy! or at least complexity. We use our LESS WITH MORE and EATING IN SEASON cookbooks that the Mennonites put together (and that friends gifted us). But it doesn't seem like enough.

But for most of us, we feel like we ought to do something, right? I would hope that some of us could put the same energy into helping our fellow man who is starving that we have perhaps misdirected at the generic word "terrorism". And I wonder if these two issues (poverty and terrorism) are not more closely related that we realize. We live in a world where 80% of the world's resources are consumed by 20% of the population...and I think we can all guess where that 20% is. Perhaps we could commit to a month at a time of a dietary shift...only local produce, no more shopping at Whole Foods (the Organic Industrial Food Face), only locally butchered meats from grassfed cows, grow your own herbs or veggies. In most instances this will cost more. Much more sometimes. Cheap food is an illusion. Someone pays for everything. I dunno, that's at least what will be on our radar if you stop in for a meal sometime.

What will you do in this new year?


aurora bender said...

you're right. in so many instances it's not the immediate problem at hand that needs the solution. and that way of "fixing" is often the societal solution that still allows the problem to exist. (and/or covers it up with a rather large band-aid) the whole system that made that problem a possibility needs to be restructured.

those foods that cost less money wise, surely don't cost less on our bodies and the earth.

i don't know what the solution is. but, yes, it seems growing your own and buying fair trade, are what we can do.

Sarah Jane said...

you read the omnivore's dilemma by michael pollan yet? it will most certainly solidify all of this. concerted effort on the semrad front on this very issue. happy new year.

Anonymous said...

I took a trip to Africa in Nov. I think one of the issues we have to learn in America is we simply can't fix extreme poverty overnight.

And we can't feel guilty for having the blessings that we have.

But we all must act-do something that is significant in the fight agaisnt poverty.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

"All that civilization requires is enough; it does not require extravagance. Until these distinctions are made we cannot even begin to talk sensibly about the problems of hunger." - Wendell Berry, from The Unsettling of America.

There needs to be communities of people (other than just the Amish) embodying the Way of Enough. A sizable measure of leaven to effect the whole. A few people practicing simplicity here and there is akin to only a few African-Americans boycotting the buses in the 60's.

Thanks as always, Ryan, for asking the tough questions.