During that same length of time the average person will consume at least 132,000 calories, and in many cases they’ll take in a lot more than that. Some of us will put on weight during this time. We’ll go on diets and join weight loss programs. We’ll watch reality shows about individuals trying to lose hundreds of pounds. We will go to the doctor because our backs and knees hurt from carrying around so much extra weight. We will celebrate with food. We will share it. We will eat it in the middle of the night. We will eat in our cars, at work and in front of the TV. We will snack constantly between meals and then at dinner we’ll go for seconds and thirds. We’ll hit the all-you-can-eat buffets and literally do just that. We’ll consume thousands of empty calories devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever while we avoid the healthy food at all costs. We will consume sodium and sugar in ungodly amounts, to the point where we create a whole host of medical problems for ourselves…but we’ll keep eating. It’s what we do. 

We happily attack the flesh of any animal we can get on our plates, cholesterol be damned. We don’t care if it runs, walks, crawls, swims, flies or wiggles if we can slaughter it we’ll eat it. We teach our children the fine distinction of which animals exist only to fill our stomachs and which ones are chosen as beloved members of our families. It is an important survival tip for the animal kingdom to try to be fuzzy and cute. An animal is are far less likely to be eaten by a carnivorous human being if they can appeal to our desire to pet them instead of eat them. It also helps if we feel like we can communicate with an animal and train them. That develops a bond that is rarely broken by one species eating the other. However, if you are a creature that has been deemed menu worthy we will confine you, fatten you and kill you at what we feel is the appropriate time. Your longevity is at our discretion. Your carcass will be sliced, diced, frozen and preserved until a convenient time to be served piping hot to human beings.

Food is more than just a requirement for survival, it is intricately woven into our culture. We not only have the obvious physical need for calories we also have intense mental and emotional attachments to what we eat. There is an evolutionary component to our primal desire to consume as much as possible whenever we can, in order to fend off starvation, but like many things in the Western world we have taken this biological function to an extreme. Our society bombards us with food advertising aimed at the very young in the hope that they will become hooked on their sugary products at the earliest age possible. We are taught from the beginning of our lives that food equals comfort. We believe that food is the solution to almost every problem we have. When we feel depressed – we eat. If we feel lonely – we eat. If we feel unhappy – we eat. If we can’t fit into our jeans any more – we eat. No matter how we are feeling at the moment we reach for the nearest junk food in the hopes that it will soothe our psyche for at least a short time. 

In public we are just as apt to abuse food. We sit in a nice restaurant and order from a huge menu that offers us so many choices it can take a full ten minutes to decide which items we want to stuff ourselves with. The perfect climate controlled atmosphere offers a rich dining ambience that makes our meal more enjoyable. Augmented by soft background music and a doting waiter who caters to our every need, we relax and thoroughly enjoy ourselves, The food is savory and rich in both texture and taste. The wine is robust and fills us with a warm glow that leads to a feeling of contentment and peace. From the appetizer through the dessert the entire meal is filled with sensory pleasures that our brains process as pure fulfillment. The final sips of gourmet coffee signals the end of another feast that will require hours of work at the gym to remove from our hips and waistlines. However, at such a blissful moment as this we are not thinking about hypertension, diabetes or coronary disease – nor are we concerned about the check we’re about to receive. With only a piece of plastic we can leave more money for just the tip than one billion human beings each make in two weeks. 

Unfortunately, this type of dining experience is in sharp contrast to what tens of thousands of mothers and fathers go through each day in extreme poverty as they dig graves for their small children who have tragically died from hunger. They do not feel a warm glow or contentment as they shovel dirt into the face of their little boy or girl. The ambience they experience is drought, armed conflict and refugee camps. They do not eat until they can’t take another breath. They do not spend 25% of what they’ll be able to earn in a year on just one meal. They do not have the luxury of dining in air conditioning without a swarm of flies. They often don’t even have something as simple as clean water to drink. Meals, if they have them, are plates or cups of porridge fortified with vitamins and nutrients designed to keep them alive not to satisfy a discriminating palate. There is no expensive wine or gourmet coffee. There are no rich desserts. There is just the specter of children dying or being left physically and intellectually challenged by severe malnutrition. 

So, the answer to the question; “DO WE CARE ABOUT HUNGER?” is obviously – not so much. We realize it exists, someplace far away and out of sight – to people we don’t understand or feel connected to – but in no way do we feel compelled to lift a finger to help them. The fact that more than six million children die each year around the world simply because they do not receive enough nutrition to fight off disease and illness does not seem to bother us in the least. The sad irony of our own poor health as a result of too much food versus their health problems and premature death due to a lack of food is completely lost on us. When was the last time you thought of a starving child as you shoveled in huge mouthfuls of stringy pizza? How often do you look at your reflection in the mirror and see the sagging gut, the unsightly bulges and the ripples of cellulite on the body of someone who has lost all control over their will power at meal time? Have you ever considered passing up a greasy, fat laden, meat based meal and writing a check instead to a humanitarian relief organization that could use that money to provide meals to 100 hungry children? 

In reality we should all care about hunger. We all know that it is immoral for a child to die from malnutrition when there is plenty of food available to feed everyone. We also know that it is a gross injustice that part of the world indulges in gluttony while other parts of the world starve. So why do we tolerate such inequities? Why do we turn away from their suffering and bury ourselves in our comfortable lives, refusing to even acknowledge those who are sick and dying? How can we go out and eat every Saturday night, consuming every variety of cuisine in the world, spending countless dollars, and cramming incredible amounts of unhealthy calories into our bodies, while children lay dying without a single morsel to eat?……No child on earth should cry tears of hunger. 


5 thoughts on “DO WE CARE ABOUT HUNGER?

  1. Two ways to enforce awareness on dying kids of distant lands.
    Legislation of these two:

    1. Make it feel closer thru media.
    Make it legally compulsory to show pictures of hungry children every 15 minutes on every TV channel in U.S.

    2. Introduce “hunger tax” to every over-caloried meal in restaurants, every over-caloried food in shops.
    Money goes to WFP to feed children.

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