Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 5: M&Ms and Oranges

Anything but gallo pinto tonight:
scrambled egg and a sweet potato 
Work has been stressful lately and I woke up this morning feeling like I had lost my protective shell, like an insect's exoskeleton or the coating on an m&m. I normally consume a good amount of sugar in my diet and it wasn't lost on me that exoskeletons and m&m shells are in fact made of sugars. Perhaps I had lost my ability to produce whatever it is that keeps me from turning into a quivering blob. Later on in the day I learned from my neuroscientist coworkers that in fact the brain runs on glucose, so my imaginings weren't too far off from my depleted reality. 

Bolstered by the encouragement of several facebook friends, I pressed on through the morning. I was and am so grateful for that boost of support at just the right time.  At lunch I caught up with a friend who didn't know that I was taking the SNAP challenge, and she offered me an orange, just sharing some of her food as we talked. I declined and explained about the SNAP Challenge. We spoke for a while about the Farm Bill and economic injustice.  I told her about the bill being in conference now. She had been sitting in front of her laptop and had during the course of our conversation  found a link to contact her representative who is on the conference committee as well as others in her delegation, and sent them a quick note about opposing SNAP cuts. Maybe you would like to do this tooAs she left she commented, "to think this was all because of an orange you didn't eat." 

As I have declined more and more free food from friends this week, I am reminded that this challenge is in part a test of my own resolve. What am I willing to do to end hunger? I hope this practice strengthens my commitment  and prepares me to engage more fully in future action. And as my friends practice compassion with me, I hope their exercise better prepares us all to practice compassion with others. 

What am I willing to do? What are you willing to do? This matters immensely. As J. Herbert Nelson pointed out earlier this week, "our neighbors' plight is connected to our willingness to love our brothers, sisters, and their children enough to become advocates for food justice." Earlier this fall I had a conversation with an old friend who has worked in hunger advocacy for decades. I asked him why, when it is so inexpensive to end hunger, when it is not exactly a controversial idea that the hungry should be fed, that the US cannot seem to get it done? His answer: political will. And he didn't just mean the politicians; he meant each one of us.  What are we willing to do?

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