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Dying For Food In the Land of Plenty: A Moment With Bill Reflection
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”
Statistics are a crapshoot on the best of days. The fact is we really cannot give a definitive answer to the question “how many suffer from hunger in the United States?” Still, we can at the very least look at these statistics and admit that there is, indeed, a problem.
As of 2010 there were 47 million Americans living in poverty and 17.2 million households living in hunger. According to the experts, hunger in America can be attributed to an economic system that does not include the poor within its working plan, a political system that has for far too long catered to big business and special interest groups, and racial inequality.
Again, these are just statistics and clinical explanations, the results of surveys and studies, fodder for the intellectuals and the elite and the politicians and the movers/shakers, none of whom suffer from hunger. Perhaps if they did….if they felt the physical effects of hunger….perhaps then answers would turn into solutions and solutions would become action.
Consider the following if you will.
Watch if you dare
The Effects of Hunger
Jake finds it hard to concentrate most days. The nutrients needed to feed his cognitive system are missing. He suffers from anxiety and mental impairment. Simple facts he has known for years elude him and his intelligence is, in fact, reducing. Psychiatric issues are becoming apparent.
Mary is having difficulty with her vision. She is sorely lacking in Vitamin A and she can no longer see objects far away with any clarity. Soon her periphery will be affected and reading will be difficult.
Bobbie has trouble eating anything because her gums are bleeding and her teeth are decaying from calcium deficiency.
Lawonda is lacking calcium, iron, protein and Vitamin B, and as a result her heart is beating at a lower rate, making even the slightest physical exertion a task of monumental proportions. Her oxygen levels are down and decreasing daily.
Malcum notices that his skin is drying out and flaking because he is lacking Vitamin A and does not have proper hydration.
James suffers from chronic joint pain because of a lack of protein. His muscles are, in fact, shrinking and weakening, making walking a major chores.
Tammy is ten and has stopped growing. Her bones lack sufficient calcium for growth and eventually she will have brittle bones that can easily break if she is “lucky” enough to reach adulthood.
Brett notices his hands and feet are tingling; this, of course, is due to the lack of Vitamin E as the nerves begin to shut down and cause loss of control and feeling.
Oliver’s immune system is breaking down, leaving him a target for a number of diseases, all because of a lack of necessary vitamins and minerals.
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And on and on We Go
The lower legs are swelling, man, and I can’t stop the pain. My heart is pounding, my heart is failing, my heart is growing and my heart is weakening. Hard to catch my breath most days; there doesn’t seem to be enough oxygen in the air.
It’s hard to pick things up now; I keep dropping them. Can’t feel my fingers and I stumble a lot because my toes just don’t seem to be there any longer. I vomit a lot lately, most time dry heaves, and I swear I’m hallucinating at times with strange movements that distract me and confuse me. Bob, he went into a coma last week and never came back. He was a good guy, Bob, and a friend of mine.
My stomach keeps swelling, man; what’s up with that. The free clinic doc says it’s edema, whatever the hell that is. All I know is the diarrhea won’t stop and the smell of death is constant, and the peeling and white spots of skin, and my hair is changing color and falling out, and damn I can’t gain any weight and I’m getting weaker.
Is this how it all ends? Is this my destiny?
I was so happy once. I ran wild as a kid, not a care in the world, the wind in my hair, my hair flowing, and strong, my God I was strong, I could work like an ox, and mom and dad said they had never seen a kid as bright as I was. It all came so easy…..and then…..
I don’t know, man; I just don’t know. Seems to me tracing it all back it was just one large cluster if you get my point. One wrong decision after another. I’m not blaming anyone; shit, what good will it do? Won’t change a damn thing now will it? The blame game is for losers and I ain’t no loser; I’m just a guy and I’m hungry, and the shadows are falling and day is turning into night and I think…hell, I know…that the end is near, and then Bob and I can play checkers again when I join him.
And maybe that’s for the best. I’m just a burden on society now; at least I have a chance to start over if I just die and move on to the next life. Bob has to be at peace now, right? I mean he can’t still be hurting after death, right? God I hope not. I hope when I take my last breath I will wake up at a huge damn banquet table with hot dogs and twinkies, buttered rolls and roast pork, cheeseburgers and a great bottle of wine. That’s what I hope!
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God I hope not! I hope I never look at the hungry as just a number in a ledger, another way to justify government funding for another study. I hope I never look at the hungry as an annoyance, or as an eyesore on the streets of my city.
“I don’t know why they just don’t get a job and quit begging for money on the street corner.”
There but for the grace of God go I. Well my friends, I’ve gone there, done that, been hungry and become acquainted with hopeless, and thank the heavens someone didn’t give up on me. The hungry are not statistics. They are human beings who once had hopes and dreams and visions of a better life. Now those visions are just hallucinations, and their hopes are for a painless death that will come sooner rather than later.
In the Land of Plenty who will care for the hungry?
In the Land of Plenty who will care for the hopeless?
In the Land of Plenty who will care for the incapacitated?
“But they aren’t my problem, man! I’ve got my own problems and I can’t be bothered.”
And I submit to those who would say those words that the day the hungry are not our problem is the day we have lost our humanity.
I would submit to those who would say those words that when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, it is the problem of all of us, and it is most assuredly our responsibility as moral human beings.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Raising awareness one person at a time.”