I hope this finds you enjoying a beautiful and relaxing summer, wherever you find yourself! One of the things I am doing to relax in my spare time in these beautiful summer months is digging into a book that has been on my "to read" list for years. If you're familiar with it, you know why it has taken me so long to actually commit. The book is "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. And, not that I judge whether or not to read a book based on its physical dimensions, but this particular book is close to 1000 pages long, and it is oversized at that. So, the appearance alone is a bit intimidating. Also, the subject of the book could give a person pause, wondering if it will be worth the investment of time. It is about the process of building cathedrals in medieval times and the people who spent their lives doing so. I started reading it last week and I am only on page 41, although it has enraptured me and I already feel invested in the characters.
However, the purpose of bringing it up in today's blog post is not to commend the book to you. I use it as the backdrop of an idea that is spoken of so frequently in certain circles these days that I think the dire nature of the subject is oftentimes lost through the "popularization" of the topic. The topic is that of food insecurity. Food insecurity is real for many people throughout the world, some places more than others; some races more than others; some socio-economic classes more than others. To varying degrees, food insecurity is a current issue to contend with.
It is also an age-old issue that humanity has had to contend with. Sometimes I think because today we can discuss this particular topic in very detached settings, we lose some of the desperation faced by those people who deal with it.
This is where the book comes into play for me. Like I said I am only on page 41, but already I have met folks who deal with food insecurity every day. The setting of the book, as I mentioned, is medieval times. Life was much wilder then. There were not state-run welfare programs for the poor to sign up to receive relief, save for the church. In the particular scene that really painted a vivid picture for me, a family was journeying through a large forest, on their way to a town in which the father hoped to find work. Along with his wife and two children, they shepherded a pig on their journey, one they had bought as a piglet and had been feeding for months in order to sell for food that would make it possible for them to survive the winter. As they travelled through the wild forest, a band of robbers attacked the family and stole their pig, the only thing that provided them with a sense of security for their long-term sustenance. All of a sudden they were "food-insecure."
Certainly I have read more recent, and real-life, accounts (this novel is a work of fiction) of people dealing with food insecurity. But, for some reason, this image of this little family's whole survival being put in jeopardy because someone else, who was probably equally as hungry (not that it was right) stole their pig.
Probably most of us reading this blog post cannot relate to the notion of food insecurity. But, I would like to challenge us all to try to conjure up to what lengths we would go to secure food for our families if it meant the difference between life and death. From the comfort of our own homes it can be easy to shake our heads and "tsk, tsk" at people who would commit crimes of all sorts. But, we might look at it differently if we were not sure where our next meal, our next 5 meals, our next 25 meals were going to come from. That is what it means to be food insecure.
My point today? Simply to ponder. (And, if you come up with a way to participate in doing something to help someone who is food insecure, all the better!)
Peace to you today, my friends.