Have you ever noticed how touchy your spouse gets when you’ve driven 30 minutes past the time she asked you to stop because she was hungry?  What does it sound like in your car, in your ear, just 30 minutes past hunger pang time?  Not very pleasant I’ll bet.

Now Paco, he’s 7. He lives in a rancho in the hills of central Mexico.  His parents are subsistence farmers.  Subsistence, we say, because the land is so arid and free of sources of water for drinking and watering that there are only a few things which will grow. Corn, beans, cactus.  For meat, rats, rabbits, grubs. Sometimes there's a donkey to haul wood and brush and pull a plow.   

  We don’t know if Paco gets much protein. We do know he came to school as hungry this morning as he did yesterday morning. If all the yesterdays are of any portence, he will come to school tomorrow as hungry as today. His meal is way past 30 minutes overdue.

But, but. “But, the children in China, they are hungrier”.  How do you know? Ever ask the child in China how it feels to feel hungry day in and day out?  Ever ask Paco how it feels to feel hungry day in and day out?  It would be interesting to compare their answers. I suspect they would be clones of each other. You do know what grief feels like, don’t you? Everyone does, if you’ve come to a certain age. You could listen to a thousand people the world over describe their feelings of grief and you would find the words they use to describe their feelings of grief would be identical. They would all be identical. Such is the human condition. Feelings differ little. Hunger is hunger the world over.   

A human can live 40 days without food so long as he has water. He can live for 5 days without water, that’s what ‘they’ say. Ever watched a terminally ill adult starve to death?  It is not pretty. Three weeks and counting, no food, no water…still breathing, and starving to death. That’s what we do to our sick people. We starve them to death. We call it humane. How fast or slow you starve to death is directly proportional to how much body fat you started out with. Paco doesn’t have much body fat.

What is it to be the child who is so hungry every morning, everyday, that he knows no other feeling than to feel hungry.  To be unable to do anything at all about fulfilling his predominant need for food and water.  And oxygen. Food, water and oxygen. You could say humans are addicted to food, addicted to water, addicted to oxygen.

Ever wonder why a whale beaches itself?  Why buffalo will stampede right off a cliff? Why children in remote northern climes are killing themselves by sniffing gasoline?  Why thousands of young adults are destroying their brains with crack? 

What happens to entire generations without hope? Whether it be in the Sudan, in China, or central Mexico, or in the oceans, in a disheartened Inuit band on the Labrador Shelf, or in the streets and alleys of our North American cities, what is happening? 

Even if you think what you are seeing is isolated and is not all that bad because you’ve heard there is some worse situation somewhere else, what have you done today to really see? To see the person you are looking at, to speak out and stand up for the right of each and every creature to have enough food to stay alive and even to thrive, to have potable water to drink, to have clean oxygen to breathe.  What have you done today to increase your understanding?

Is a child’s desperate hunger urgent only when he is taking his last breath?  Is it in this moment you think there couldn’t possibly be anything worse anywhere? Then will you act?  Will you? It will be hard to watch.  You can see the pain and suffering of a child’s hunger before their dying breaths if you are brave enough. Make them visible in your own eye, in your own heart, in your own mind. See them. They reach out to you as you walk by I know they do.  Somebody else’s problem you think. Can’t save them all you think. No, probably you cannot save them all.

You can save one. Save one life.  Make it your motto.  One life. Cents a day. Loose change.  Quench a child’s hunger with cents a day and be the change agent of the world.