On this snowy Christmas Eve, my family and I will gather around the table to enjoy a traditional Swedish “julbord” with meatballs, rich potato casserole, ham, pickled herring, pickled beets, homemade bread, a big, round cheese, boiled eggs, and fruit salad with real whipped cream for dessert.
Later in the evening, we’ll snuggle up on the couch with a bowl of traditional rice porridge topped with cinnamon and sugar and watch the movie Elf. It will be fun and cozy and our tummies will feel nice and full.
Around the world, a billion people will be wondering where their next meal is coming from. Will there be enough for everyone or will mom and dad have to give their share to the kids? Who will be the next person to die from a preventable, water-borne disease? Is there any hope at all?
Jim Merkel starts his excellent book, “Radical Simplicity” with a thought-provoking illustration:
Imagine you are at the potluck buffet and see that you are the first in line. How do you know how much to take? Imagine that this potluck spread includes not just food and water, but also the materials needed for shelter, clothing, healthcare and education. It all looks and smells so good and you are hungry. What will you heap on your plate? How much is enough to leave for your neighbors behind you in the line?
I think about this passage everytime I see a table loaded with food. What’s interesting is that when we see people behind us in line, most of us tend to be mindful and not take too much to ensure there is enough for everybody. What if we saw the faces of the billion people who are hungry right now? Would we take less? I would like to think so. But I know I personally have a long way to go to take only my share. In fact, if everybody lived like I do, we would need 3.5 planets!
I had planned to end this post with a link to a change.org petition called “President Obama: Feed the Hungry Instead of Wall Street.” But all of a sudden this seems like a cop-out. Like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Just sign the petition. Done. Now I can enjoy my Christmas.
I know I must do more than sign a petition. I must change in a way that is not always going be comfortable and easy. I must bid farewell of certain luxuries so everybody can have enough.
It’s the only way.