**CAVEAT** Conservative readers beware: the Liberal Christian in me wrote the following post.
As I was reading this story in USAToday online about how Oregon’s Democratic Governor has taken up the challenge of living for one week solely on the $21 food stamp allowance, I was interested to find out more of the story behind the story. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has already responded to the potential naysayers:
“I don’t care what they call it, if this is what it takes to get the word out,” Kulongoski said, in response to questions about whether the food stamp challenge was no more than a publicity stunt. “This is an issue every citizen in this state should be aware of.”
Actually, hunger is an issue everyone in the world should be aware of. Most Americans are only a few paychecks away from homelessness, whether we realize it or not, and I am not ashamed to say that when I was first living on my own I occasionally needed the assistance of my local food shelf. I was employed full time, but this was before the idea of a “livable minimum wage” took hold, and for a year or so I scrambled to pay the rent. I never went on food stamps, but if I was down to pennies and wasn’t going to get paid for a few more days then I walked down and got some food from time to time. Since then, of course, I’ve gone back and given back and am constantly amazed at the amount of people the Burlington Food Shelf helps feed on a daily basis.
I’ve been a supporter of One.org for a while now. Despite my initial disbelief that celebrities could actually “accomplish” anything substantive, the eclectic combination of folks supporting the effort lead me to dig deeper into the organization. I’ve mentioned them in forums before, but until last night’s reminder from American Idol, I have neglected to endorse them here. Let me do so right now.
I should start by explaining that I have another project that I’m currently working on called FixingTomorrow, and have a very specific–perhaps too much–idea of what type of society we should be working toward, and many opinions that I cite here and other places, while they may seem nonsensical in vaccuum, actually make sense when taken as a whole. The short version is that I think we’re so mired in our entrenched processes that we no longer have the capacity to work within established norms to accomplish our actual needs as a species. But enough digression–the FT project will be explained in due time. Suffice it to say that underneath all of the ideas I will eventually present is the concept of a truly worldwide functional society, where all of our fundamental Maslowian needs are met: food, shelter, safety, etc. And The One Campaign is the best indicator I’ve seen that we may actually meet those needs worldwide within my lifetime.
TheOneCampaign is such a strong and basic response that people ranging from Bono to Pat Robertson have signed on. That in itself should be telling enough. If I agree with Pat Robertson about something, then you should just assume it’s a good idea and get on with it.
And while IdolGivesBack was a nice idea, I find it inexcusable that we allow the mentally ill to walk the streets as homeless, having rescinded funding for mental hospitals or declared them “inhumane,” especially since we have the capacity to feed every person on the planet. Now, as I talk about extensively in FixingTomorrow, birth control is another avenue we should strongly advocate, at least in the short term, to help the starvation problem, but even absent that idea we have the ability to feed everyone now alive.
What we lack is the collective will to make it happen.
So please, if the images on your TV screen last night weren’t enough to move you, let my words be your guide. You can save a life. You can feed a child. And you can tell your government to get the job done right now.
Jesus bade us to care for the least among us. Would that not mean those most incapable of taking care of themselves?
Please join ONE today. Volunteer at your local food bank. Visit a local nursing home and sit with an elderly person for a while who may have no one else in their life. I know a lot of gay men will read this: you may end up that lonely man in the nursing home one day.
There’s no reason for anyone to starve anymore. Any reason we give for allowing it to happen is merely an excuse, not a reason. Those deaths are on our hands as long as we sit on them.