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7.5 Million Starving
18 November 2001
It is difficult to grasp, and thus care about, that many people starving. Maybe it could help us to fathom this if we were able to imagine one person starving, our own self perhaps. What does it feel like to be hungry, really hungry, for many days? And many weeks? And longer.
It's easy to imagine the beginning symptoms like weakness, shakiness, irritability, fatigue. But what happens when those aren't remedied by food? Is it painful when the organs begin shrinking as they do in starvation? It must be. And as the immune system loses force, how does one endure the cramping, combined with the weakness, combined with the lowering body temperature, combined with the overall bloating as the body retains fluid?
Can you imagine yourself feeling that terrible? Now expand it to your family. Your daughter. Your tiny son whose tummy is distending and who cries with headaches. Your grandmother, coughing and scared and silent. What would it feel like to watch a toddler, your toddler, weaken and beg for what you can't give?
So we're not at 7.5 million people yet. We're at about 10. And already the misery is profound and unbelievable. Now add all your closest friends to those hungering, and you not being able to help them or be helped by them. And you watch the gaunt stares as the body fails because its cells haven't the nutrients they need to make the brain work well. Add your neighbors, all of them. All of them. Are we at 100 people yet?
Millions left to go. Farther than the eyes could see, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of weakening hungry people who want something that exists in great abundance all over the world - food. And if hunger and its related illnesses is bad enough and already hard to wrap your mind around, add the other unthinkables that the Afghani families are enduring today, right this second as you read this. No running water, no toilets, huddled in refugee camps miles and miles long, And its getting cold. It's going to get really, really cold and wet heavy snows are coming. And you're so terribly hungry.
Imagine the stench and disgusting danger of raw sewage, of the infectious diarrhea that comes from that. And there are already dead bodies to be dragged away to be buried or burned by weak hungry men. How does a frail starving man dig a grave for his neighbor, his friend, or his tiny son? The nights must be endless, filled with prayers for a warm morning sun.
And can it possibly get worse than our imaginings so far? Yes. There are bombs dropping in the distance, and they are so loud, and the ground shakes and you are already shivering. Those bombs are so loud and the planes dropping them come one after another after another. And you just wish you could have the food that that pilot will be having later. And don't forget to add the land mines that make every step a roulette. Two of your younger brothers stepped on them. One died after a few days of untold pain without any medicine and the other one lost his leg just past his knee. It's so hard for your body to heal when you can't feed it. This gets so hard to fathom.
Please try. This is all real, and all happening right now in a place only a plane flight away from you. What would it be like to starve?