Which world do you live in?

February 2, 2008

If you are like 60% of the world’s population you live in the 3rd world. On January 23rd Nova Southeastern University illustrated this by hosting their annual Hunger Banquet. Each guest drew a lot upon entering the banquet, held on campus at The Commons. Just like the real world, 60% of the guests sat on the floor, ate rice with their hands and had only water to drink. 25% were lucky enough to have chairs and basic utensils and were able to have beans with their rice portions. A very lucky few – 15% – had a full meal at a table set with proper plates and utensils. I think I even spied a little dessert there!

The weather that evening provided a great backdrop, as one of our famous tropical rainstorms provided a downpour that ended up dripping on those seated on the floor of the tent in the third world ~ another reminder of how lucky so very many of us are. Cooperative Feeding staff were on hand to provide information on the ongoing hunger right here in Broward County. One staff, Gwen Perry, even shared her personal and moving story of hunger. The floor was then opened for discussion about poverty, homelessness and hunger.

One interesting thing that came out of the evening was a comment by one of the group representing the third world. Seems that their fellow students seated at the first world table felt enough compassion to sneak them a few forks and paper plates, vastly improving their experience. An interesting parallel to the real world perhaps ~ when truly faced with the reality of hunger and poverty, most of us will act and the action does not have to be monumental to make a difference. A simple act of compassion, sharing your excess with those less fortunate, does effect change.

Today take this challenge. Just as the students opened their eyes and saw the need right in front of them, open yours. What do you see? Do you see the elderly gentleman who looks just a bit too thin? Maybe the grandmother who has taken in her grandchildren and only has social security? Or maybe you see the family with all of their possessions in the car because they have no place to live. Now look at your own life. What do you have that you can share? Food, clothing, household items, cash, or maybe time and talent? Just like the students at Nova, you don’t have to go far to share.

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Are you a Bubba?

November 17, 2007

The Cooperative Feeding Program was fortunate to be featured in a story on diminishing federal aid to food banks by the Sun-Sentinel last week. If you didn’t catch the print version it included a very nice picture of Barbara, our Pantry Manager, and Bubba, one of our customers, as she handed him his bag of food. It was a nice picture and we passed the paper around commenting on it and how much we liked Bubba. He volunteered with us often, helping others through their morning meal. Everyone had a story to tell, a connection to make.

This morning the picture went around again, but for a very different reason. Bubba was shot a few days ago and died after suffering a massive heart attack on the operating table. Of course we were all shocked, another act of senseless violence right here in our hometown. What really struck me though was what a big hole in the world, one which can be palpably felt, his passing made. He was no political leader, no major philanthropist or life saving surgeon, but he was kind, compassionate and genuine. If your life was over right now, in this instant, how many people could say that about you?

Most of us will never broker a Middle East peace accord, discover a cure for a disease or be a captain of industry, but we can all be kind. Hold the door for a stranger. Smile gently at someone on the street who looks in need of a little kindness, a little compassion. Acknowledge the cashier at the grocery store and for the few minutes it takes to check out engage with them, ask them how they are and mean it. If someone cuts you off in traffic, slow down and let them in. Be thankful that you didn’t have an accident and your life come to an end sharply, abruptly and without warning.

These are not big things, not complicated acts. But if we each were a little kinder, a little more compassionate, a little more like Bubba wouldn’t the world be a better place? As we move into the holiday season ask yourself this question….. Are you a Bubba?