Why care about hunger?
By Aubrey Sullivan

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Why? One of the most important lessons I have learned in my short twenty years is that I do not ask this question enough. Fear of asking a dumb question kept me quiet during my childhood, and as I got older I hoped my silence would fool others into thinking I already had all the answers. It turns out that the joke was on me. I spent most of my life making assumptions about the way the world is and why the people in the world are the way they are. For the most part, I assumed people were fat because they were gluttons; people were uneducated because they didn’t value wisdom; and people were poor because they were lazy.

Despite my harsh assumptions, I still managed to have a desire to serve others, and so I found myself signing up for a course called Hunger: Causes, Consequences, Responses, my freshman year at Auburn. This class awakened me from my world of assumptions and brought me into a world of confusion and discomfort; a world that I have since been unable to escape because this world is our world and it is our reality.


I learned that in this world there is injustice. There are corrupt leaders and backwards politics. There are natural disasters, droughts, and famines. There is prejudice and violence. There is war and unrest. There is rape and abuse. There is human trafficking. There are homeless and displaced people. There are uncared for widows and orphans. There is disease. There is inequality. There are unequally distributed resources. There is starvation in a world of plenty.
And there are innocent people who face these horrors every day. These are people who seldom get asked what sequence of events led them to a life of hardship. I have learned that there is a concrete difference between loving to have a heart that serves and having a heart that serves with love. I learned about the detrimental effects even seemly small injustices can have in the lives of many because of our globalized world. As my head filled with knowledge, my heart filled with compassion.


All too suddenly, statistics came to life and grew into hungry people, people who were more like me than I wanted to think. I realized I could have just as easily been born into a life of suffering in which I would be just a number or statistic to people of plenty, rather than a person recognized for my humanity. For a while I let guilt consume me as I questioned what I had done to have been spared a life of suffering and live a life abundant in blessings. Finally, my question was answered by a profoundly humbling realization: I did nothing to deserve to be born into a life of ease, by grace it was given to me.


My all-consuming guilt has evolved into overwhelming thankfulness, which gives me the strength to not only to recognize the injustice in the world, but to see the faces of the people it effects.  I am now no longer merely concerned that one billion people are hungry; I want to ask one billion people why they are hungry. I have learned that the issue of hunger cannot be solved until the root of hunger is discovered.


Enrolling in that hunger studies class was my attempt to become the girl with all the answers. What I have become, is a girl who is not afraid to ask all the questions.

 

Aubrey Sullivan is a student at Auburn University.

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