By: Renee Marcy, Life Academy Teacher
This past weekend, I chose hunger as a symbolic gesture. I fasted for 24 hours as part of a peace movement organized by high school students at Life Academy, a 74-day fast-relay. I was aware that my choice to fast was a self-imposed luxury. This luxury made me think about hunger and the interaction of hunger with violence, loss, and grief.
For millions in this country and around the world, hunger is not a game. Worldwide 925 million people don’t have the luxury of choosing hunger (http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm). Food is a scarce resource. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 48.8 million people in the United States live in a “food insecure” household, and 16.2 million of these food-starved people are children (Household Food Security in the United States in 2010). In this country, unemployment is a better predictor than poverty of “food insecurity” (http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/hunger-and-poverty-statistics.aspx), and in Oakland there are high concentrations both. The current unemployment rate in Oakland is 16.2 percent according to one site, which also lists Oakland as having a 42.9 percent higher cost of living than the U.S. average (http://www.bestplaces.net/city/california/oakland).
For me, this weekend, being hungry for 24 hours was a struggle. It was difficult to want something that I could not have. I connected the struggle of hunger with the feelings I have when I long for, or yearn for, peace. I connected hunger, also, with grief.
To me, hunger is an absence – scraping my insides, vacuous in need – much like grief is the emptiness of aching heart. Hunger, then, is like grief. For families grieving their lost loved ones – yearning to hold their faces, touch their skin, and feel the love from their smiling eyes – for these families, this hunger is insatiable. Insatiable pain of grief: so empty and wanton – without end. Not a game.
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Edited By: Eva Oliver, RAW Co-Coach