Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Place at the Table, continued, March. 2011

This past January my family attended the St. Lawrence University Martin Luther King, Jr. service. The service was held in the beautiful Gunnison Chapel on campus and was a mix of reflections, singing, prayer and readings. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the service would focus on injustices surrounding hunger and food insecurity.

I would like to share excerpts from Shaun Whitehead's reflections, which were given at the service. Shaun is the assistant chaplain at SLU, a powerful speaker and deeply spiritual person.

“A Place at the Table” excerpts from Shaun Whitehead's MLK reflections 2011

“To those who hunger, give bread; to those who have bread give hunger for justice.”

(paragraph two) Hunger is a justice issue. A core value of the human race is to turn no one away who is hungry; to feed our neighbor. It is so central a value, that a proverb tells us “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.”

(paragraph three) …..While chronic hunger doesn't make the evening news, it takes more lives than famine. This is the invisible hunger and it is widespread right here in the United States of America. 49 million people right here in the United States live in what our government calls “food insecure” families. …...”Food insecurity does its worst damage to children. When the body doesn't get enough nutrition, the brain isn't fully alert. ….” The intellectual and personal development of children in chronically food-insecure households is likely to be permanently stunted” (Beckman, David).

(paragraph seven) But how can we be mobilized to take the issue of hunger seriously and give voice to the voiceless? …..WE'VE GOT TO CHANGE OUR THINKING. ….we have become accustomed to injustice and the ways in which it is entrenched in our society. We expect some folk to continue to go hungry. ….we've got to regain our outrage. We've got to be disturbed again. ….49 million in the U.S. should unsettle us.

(paragraph eleven)....We're organizing at the grassroots level. There are those in this community who have been working on the issue of hunger in the North Country. David Beckman (author) tells us that there must be a WAVE OF INSISTENCE to mobilize to end hunger in our world, in our time.

(paragraph seven)....But to accept the charge to lead the exodus from hunger (even in light of our own struggles), we've got to accept that we are all interrelated.

Shaun reminded us that once Dr. King told us “The world in which we live is geographically one. We are caught in an escapable network of mutality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all directly. I cannot be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be”.

Shaun's reflections contain much more than is listed here, but I hope you can get a sense of Shaun's call to urgency. In the most powerful country in the world, how is it that our citizens can be hungry? It doesn't make sense to me. In the next few weeks, consider her thoughts and then go out and be compassionate to your neighbors (for many hungry people don't “look” hungry) and become part of the “wave of insistence”.

Next time I write we will be in full swing of maple syrup season! I can't wait.....

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