SOMETIME AGO, I received an email from a neighbor who is highly regarded by my family. The message she shared with me made me think a lot. It was about an African child who, with his face looking a bit sad yet filled with surprise, was asking an unknown woman, ‘Are you telling me that the children of your country use water to play and that they buy animals to have as pets and spend a lot of money on them to feed them and keep them healthy? Are you telling me that in your country food is thrown out when the expiration date has passed? Are you telling me that in your country, people wash their cars with potable water?»
How true: wastefulness is commonplace in the lives of some while misery rules in the lives of a large percentage of humanity. According to 2013 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, more than 50 percent of the children in India and Africa suffer from malnutrition, more than 6,000,000 children die from starvation every year on the planet, more than a quarter of the world’s population lives below the poverty threshold, more than 80 percent of the children in the world do not have access to antibiotics, 100,000,000 live in the streets, and still many more millions are exploited sexually. Could there be sadder statistics? Can you imagine one of your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews affected by those numbers?
There are millions of people suffering from hunger, even in industrialized countries that enjoy economic resources and social aid systems. The FAO figures that more than ten children die of hunger on our planet with every minute that goes by—and these deaths happen not just in Africa and Asia, but also on the American continent and in other industrialized countries. We, meanwhile, want to be comfortable and not be bothered; on occasion, we even take the liberty of criticizing the poor for not working more or for not knowing how to get out of their situation. I believe that we need more sensitivity to the reality that surrounds us.
‘He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor» (Proverbs 22:9). Perhaps we have to learn to look, and to do so in such a way that it leads us not to spare any efforts when we find an opportunity to share our bread with the poor.
«He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor» (Proverbs 22:9).