I stand in my kitchen this morning mixing up another batch of muesli. As I pour out the oats I can't get the image of Fatima out of my mind. She lives in Afghanistan. Her parents are so desperate for food that they promised her to a wealthy man to marry for $6000. She is 11. One of my several credit cards has a greater credit limit than that. Her family doesn't have that kind of security blanket. We've needed to pay rent on the credit card before, and groceries, but we've always been able to pay it off again.
In India children live in slavery to pay off a debt of less than $30 that their parents needed to borrow. They may never be free.
I measure in the dried cranberries and think of the families who live on less than a dollar a day. They aren't eating cranberries with their millet. I grab handfuls of millet and toss it in wondering how many children have less than this meager handful to eat every day.
I watch my baby stuff spoonfuls of muesli and yogurt into her mouth, spilling some on her naked dimpled chest as she does. I think about Jonise in Haiti who held her 9 month old baby in her arms as he died of malnutrition.
I tell my children to get out their school work and think of all the families who can no longer afford to pay for school supplies because they need to buy food. Food that costs twice as much this year as it did last year.
I remember a commercial for a car company that I saw this weekend, I don't remember which one, they were talking about how they are using corn now to manufacture the stuffing in the seats. I think about all the people in Mexico who can no longer afford to buy tortillas because the price of corn has become prohibitive.
I think of the drinking bottles made out of corn and wonder why we can't all use a glass jar or reuse a bottle any more to hold water. Why can't we all just buy a filter and put it on our taps instead of manufacturing bottles out of food or petroleum and buying bottled water when we could be using the money to dig wells in Africa for people who have none. Why don't companies make glass bottles any more and reuse them? Sand is cheap. There are desserts full of it. Am I missing something?
I think of Al Gore and his Oscar for sounding the alarm on global warming. I think of him in his big mansion in Nashville leaving a bigger carbon footprint in one month than we do in two years. He could almost pay my rent with his monthly natural gas bill. And what about Fatima? Her family can't buy food because prices are up. Prices are up because people are turning food into fuel, partly. And car parts. [UN:Biofuel Production "Criminal Path" to Global Food Crisis?]
Why, because we're worried about global warming? Because oil companies are keeping prices inflated based on our fear of global warming? Because people are speculating and buying up stock in raw materials hoping to make a profit and driving up the price of rice in the process? Because the global economy is fueled by greed? How much is enough?
I don't have anything today but thoughts. I care, but I don't know what to do. I suspect that part of the reason we are here is because of the way the average American has been voting with their dollars that past decade or so. We and our choices are driving the global economy, whether we're aware of it or not. Most of us are trying to make wise choices. But the problem isn't as simple as it first appeared is it? And while the global economy adjusts children are starving to death, dying from hunger.
People in Vancouver sit themselves in chicken wire cages in downtown to protest the over crowding and poor treatment of chickens. And they should care, chickens should be able to run around and scratch and peck. But there are babies DYING of malnutrition. Where are the people curled up in fetal positions lying in the dirt while flies crawl all over their bony little bodies protesting the lack of food, making urban pedestrians uncomfortable? Oh that's right, they are too busy trying not to die somewhere far away from the American public eye.
I don't have any answers. It's not a simple problem. I don't know exactly what we should do.
I do know that I am compelled to do something. Love for my neighbor requires that I care. Even if they live on a different continent far far away. I already try to live below my means to send a few dollars here and there to help. I already try to steer clear of rampant consumerism. I think of the person in China and what their life is like as I look hold the great deal in the Target bin. But I don't know if it will make it better or worse for them if I refuse to buy it. They would just like a fair wage and a regular work day in a safe place. Does my need for a great deal fuel the corporate machine that uses them so callously? If I only purchase things from post consumer places, read second hand, will they be out of a job? Will they be worse off? Or will the Chinese economy return to more of an agricultural focus with the current crisis and consumer demand changing from plastic trinkets to organic food will it change things there? Is the lot of the organic farmer better than that of the factory worker?
I'm a whole lot of questions today and no simple solutions. All I've got is the hope that if enough of us live our lives aware of the way our choices affect others, and care as much about others as we do our own families that something will change, that this world can be healed by love if enough of us surrender to it and actively seek ways to love each other.