Kneading Change

May 27th

whole wheat bran glob of bread

I spent yesterday morning with my friend’s three-year-old daughter on my lap, eating a pancake breakfast leisurely in the sun, feeding the birds our leftover crumbs. It was such a nice, peaceful way to start the day and it certainly made me wish I had more three-day weekends on the calendar and more three-year-olds in my daily routine.
I didn’t think twice about handing her bread to throw to the birds. We’d eaten plenty and it would have otherwise gone in the trash. We sat there, watching the finches try to fly away with chunks that were way too big for their tiny bodies. Eventually a few pigeons and crows showed up to clean up the feast and help their smaller friends.
This morning I woke up to an NPR news story about hunger in Afghanistan. Bread prices are soaring and there isn’t enough naan to go around. My heart broke as I listened to a father talk about splitting the four pieces of bread he could buy each day to feed his family of six.
I’d fed more to pigeons just yesterday.
I’m leaving Saturday for Nicaragua and then off to Africa and frankly the travel couldn’t come soon enough. I’m prickly and ready to have my spirits renewed with travel. I know the theme around here lately has been very heavy-handed; I’ve been having a harder time than normal understanding global inequities and my mood has soured. I couldn’t help but look at the sample bread basket at the coffee shop this morning, full of free slices of whole wheat, nutritious bread, and think of that Afghani father. I know eating less in Tempe, Arizona may have little change on the wheat prices on the other side of the earth, but I am sure that continuing to consume at my typical American-pace isn’t helping matters. I took my cup of coffee and sat down in tears to think. How do we even things out? How do we make sure everyone gets enough food? I’m not talking about Hummers or Plasma TVs or diamond engagement rings. Just food. How do we, as a specie, figure this out?
I don’t have the answers, but I’m working on them. In the meantime, sorry pigeons — no more bread for you.

~K

Posted in
Faith, Goals, Good to Great, Journal
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12 Responses

  1. Rikki May 27, 2008

    Hang on Kelli and keep doing what you do so well…talking to us about the needs. The importance of hearing, listening and letting the information about people just like us dying only because they live on a different continent, is crucial to change. Keep telling their stories and yours.

    On a personal note, it is because of the things you write about that I have become more aware and care about what is going on half way around the world and frankly, sometimes in my own back yard.

    Thanks for that gift Kelli.

  2. I’ve been living in Kuwait for almost a year now and I’ve seen the poverty. Grocery prices here are insane! For 6 bags of groceries you can spend about 45KD which is about $170. I watch from my living room window as people rummage through the garbage cans looking for anything. Every trash bag is ripped open to make sure there’s nothing in there worthwhile. I feel guilty that my leftovers sit in the fridge and I finally throw them out after a few days. If it’s something that can withstand not having to be in the fridge then I wrap it in a plastic bag just in case it might be someone’s next meal. Being in Kuwait and seeing how some live (a gutted apartment building with no windows but someone has managed to rent the top floor apartment) has opened my eyes.

  3. My mother and I were just talking about this this AM. We both agree that the bright side of $5 gas might just be that Americans come to learn about moderation. Affluenza has taught whole generations to be wasteful consumers. (Myself included.) I have to believe that thinking twice about how we spend our $$ will help tone down the consumer gluttony in this country. Maybe once we learn that we can do well on less, we will choose to. Hope?

  4. I struggle with this as well and I know how you feel. After spending many years working with an international nonprofit helping to bring safe drinking water into developing nations, burned out and fed up with internal politics, I left 2 years ago to focus on needs existing in my own community, but I still feel my heart break every time I read about such things. I don’t know the answer. But globally and locally, I wonder what we’ve come to when mothers’ begin to accept that their children most likely won’t live to adulthood.

  5. sorrow May 27, 2008

    One of the biggest problems with globalization of the food market is the inherit corruptness of man. I have seen first hand the generosity of people, go completely wrong when all of the food/clothing/and necessities are snatched by petty tyrants who then sell them or give them away to the chosen few.
    The scariest thing about 5$ gas is that as a farmer I can barley afford to harvest my crops, it actually costs more to maintain them then I will make once they are harvested. So when I sell my small farm, who do you think will buy it? Not my neighbor who struggles as i do, but some big conglomerate “wallmart farm” who will then have the ability to pay the 5$ a gallon for gas, and charge whatever the conglomerate wants for the food.
    Be careful thinking 5$ a gallon for gas will make americans or anyone else more conservation orientated, it may just come back to haunt us when all of our small individual farms are gone, and the government is deciding how much food you get…

  6. I hate feeling helpless. But I pray a lot.

    “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” — Helen Keller

    You are doing a lot by fueling the conversation. Thanks and blessings on your travels.

  7. Karen May 27, 2008

    A site that you may already be familiar with…. if not, you may enjoy getting to know: http://www.one.org/.

  8. Terri May 27, 2008

    bless your heart. i find myself thinking the same things and feeling like nothing i do will make enough of an impact. i know every little bit counts, and i do what i can. i’m grateful that you are able to take it many steps further in your travels.

    again, bless your heart.

  9. so true, kelli. how can our earth sustain the rate of consumption by humans? and while i am lucky to have so much, and to have so much choice, there are so many who do not. i was just reading about people eating dirt…in haiti, i think? so heartbreaking. but i am looking forward to seeing and reading about the places you visit…happy travels!

  10. I can so relate, and appreciate your picture of being able to feed the birds with your leftovers – such a simple thing – but not the starving babes around the world.

    Was just thinking about world hunger yesterday, particularly in Mozambique, and wishing there was some way we could channel more philanthropic efforts that direction. We’re a smart species, right? Why can’t we solve this thing?

  11. The problem is two fold, in my view…the use of farm land for bio fuels instead of food and the economic affluence of countries like China, India and Pakistan where these people now want better food (more meat) which requires more grain to feed cattle. This is not to say that these people don’t deserve to eat as we do in North America, maybe we need to consume less. As the demand for oil increases it can only get worse. Is paying 5 bucks for a gallon of gas the answer? How will people commute work? Some people here commute up to 60 miles a day to their jobs. If gas is too expensive will working become worthwhile. Like the farmer who is loosing money, who will work at a loss? These things preoccupy this aging mind a lot. I just bought a 10 lb bag of flour and paid almost 15 bucks for it, double from last year…have a good trip and renew yourself…ciao

  12. kelli, i am sitting here catching up on your posts, thinking so much, and realizing how much i missed your words.
    my thoughts are with you on your travels. you are doing the good work… sometimes i think it’s all we can do, each of us, trying to do good work and fight for what we believe in. xox

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