Monday, April 14, 2008

Starving People... Who Cares?

I was reading comments people were making on the BBC regarding the world's food price increases. Many people make very valid comments about overpopulation and the movement towards crops for bio-fuel, but there was one comment in particular that shocked me and I wanted to share it here.

Bangladesh is one of the countries where people are starving. It's a fact, a slightly hidden fact, but a fact nonetheless. I have spoken to poor families who at the moment eat only 1 meal of rice per day. I met a friend today, he was pulling hundreds of pounds of sand down the street as a coolie, last I knew him he was unemployed. Luckily now he has a job to feed his family, but to what effect? The strain I could see in his body was unbelievable, this older man struggling to pull hundreds and hundreds of pounds of sand through the streets of Mymensingh. And with all this work, he eats maybe two meals of rice a day, with no protein and a few vegetables. These are the effects of rising food prices on the population of Bangladesh. People lining up all day to receive rice at a reduced price, rationing hand fulls of rice every meal. People are starving, and Bangladesh is not alone.

Now back to the comment that provoked me enough to write this post. Someone wrote, "Who cares, I have a cupboard full of glorious food and a freezer full of meat let them eat cake!" This comment was so provocative, I am almost inclined to say it was posted to make a point or as a wake-up call, I can hardly believe someone would be so callous or insensitive, but it is possible. This comment may be over the top, we all may say, "I would never say that!" or "That's terrible!" or some other comment to retain our image as a caring and sensitive human being. But how many of us, by our actions, are in fact making the same comment as this person? I have a cupboard full of glorious food and a freezer full of meat, they can deal with their own problems, I'm just fine. I encourage everyone today to stop and think, food prices are rising, economic systems are struggling, what can we do? How can we remember to include the people who will be most affected by our economic decisions and hoarding of food? How can we keep from starving the poorest in society? These questions have no easy answer, but I claim with no reservations that "Who cares... let them eat cake!" is not the answer. Because they will not eat cake, the reality of the matter is that they very well may die of starvation or a related disease. Who cares? I care, and I hope you do too.

Peace and Justice.

PS The quote was taken from the article, from BBC World Website.

1 comment:

Oli said...

This scene that I've found myself lately in depicts similarly the worldwide gap that we find ourselves in today. As I came to realize the symbolism I've had to take a picture:
I wish you all the best, Steve,
I'm just volunteering in Australia but hopefully soon I will get the chance of experiencing India or Bangladesh myself. Thank you for your blog,