Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Listening to the voices of the hungry in the land of plenty

In the past two days I have been listening to the stories of community members participating in our hunger and food insecurity project, and their stories are very touching. The stories range from simple to complex. Simple in that some were simple mistakes that have cost them their livelihood. Complex in that some are constrained by circumstances beyond their control. The stories of hunger and painful experiences that continually rob them of the dignity of human existence. The stories are humbling in that majority of these voices are never heard yet, they are our neighbors. Though their stories are separate, yet related in that the trio who shared their experiences with me exemplify in different ways how everyday persons in our neighborhoods struggle to get food which is a basic necessity of life in a land of plenty. America is globally regarded as a land of plenty, but listening to these stories after stories makes me wonder aloud. Having been involved in a similar study in previous semester, the stories are not completely new, but seem to confirm and reinforce some of the concerns and challenges of community members with respect to hunger, and everyday struggle with getting food. As human, the tendency is to judge the poor and hungry as lazy and unserious minded, but as you listen to these voices, you decipher complex structural challenges that constrain and restrict them from making a head way, even as they struggle to overcome such challenges. As I reflect upon these interactions, I recall our recent class conversation on Shiva’s articulation of “Privilege as a loss” which represents how oblivious we are about everyday life challenges because of our priviledges.Listening to the other is a journey that should get us thinking.Should we blame or judge persons that find themselves in conditions that is not their fault?Just thinking aloud.

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