Keeping Hunger in Mind

Anatomically modern humans have been fighting nature for around 200,000 years, so the idea of having enough for everybody probably seems inconceivable to many, especially since one influential fraternity of theorists argues that life is supposed to be brutal for a majority due to an inexorable form of economic Darwinism, for lack of a better phrase. In this model, a tiny minority gets a whole lot while nearly everyone else mostly just suffers and then dies miserably and unceremoniously, leading to a “better-adapted” species.

Nevertheless, for the first time in human history, there is no physical reason for hunger to continue on such a massive scale, at least in terms of capability. The world has finally reached the point where it now produces enough food to provide everyone with an adequate caloric intake every day. Unfortunately, making this happen will never be easy given the mechanics of poverty. Skewed income distribution, military and cultural conflicts, natural disasters, inefficient agricultural production practices, unstable markets, food wastage, and other factors spell continued misery for a staggering number of unfortunate people, to include over 48 million Americans who live in food insecure households. Of course, the weakest usually suffer the most. Five million children die every year due specifically to malnutrition, and the number is around twice that for child deaths due to symptoms related to malnutrition.

Solutions do exist. For instance, developing more effective food production systems and creating better access and availability to nutritious diets and health services for those who need them would go far in solving the problem. But this is easier said than done. Hunger is broadly systemic, and too many people in positions of power fail to implement practical remedies due to ignorance, indifference, political cowardice, or sociopathic tendencies. Personalizing the issue makes it more immediate and real. We all suffer in one way or another, which means we should help others suffer less, especially children and the elderly.

Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Helping others reshapes our identities, improves our social skills, and connects us in beautiful and unexpected ways. Accordingly, those of us who want to eliminate hunger should push this conversation to the forefront of public discourse while maintaining as positive an attitude as possible, knowing we will, at times, be meeting resistance and sorrow. We need to address the problem in a consistent manner by seeking out opportunities to engage in short- and long-term actions that alleviate hunger. Starting with our own communities is always a good idea.

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