There’s a question that often floats about when considering the problem of hunger: “Why us?” With the plight of starving African children so visible that it has become a platitude, and with reports of earthquakes in Haiti and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean devastating already impoverished homes and families– could Americans really be facing anything like their brothers and sisters elsewhere?
Yet, to say that the misfortunes of others overseas devalues those closer to us is absurd. It is certainly strategic to fight poverty where it is most seeded, but holding to practicality, we must sometimes focus our attention to domestic concerns. And so, we look on our own shores, and realize that hunger is anything but alien to this generation of Americans. Let’s start with the men (and women) in the mirror, and “make that change”.
Combating hunger has been, this past year, a theme of sorts driving interfaith action in and around Boston. To benefit children in Quincy, Mass., two separate events hosted by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and the Harvard Interfaith Council packaged over 30,000 meals with the help of Kidscare International. This Saturday, the effort continues, with HUNGERally, a interfaith presentation and discussion to educate the local population on hunger and homelessness in Boston and beyond.
HUNGERally marks the first collaborative effort by Boston-area colleges to organize an interfaith service and dialogue project. Students and faculty from Harvard, Boston University, Brandeis, Boston College, MIT, Gordon College, Fisher College, and Tufts have worked together to organize a compelling series of speakers and exercises, including folks from various religious backgrounds speaking on why their tradition compels them to fight hunger.
I’ll be speaking from the Humanist perspective–and to give a short anecdotal introduction to what draws me to the cause, I remember a Friday night several months ago, just before one of Harvard’s fall interfaith meal packaging projects. Chris Stedman, myself, and a fellow student leader Guillermo Hamlin were the only ones available to bring in the recently arrived ingredients for the next day’s meal packaging, and despite the Friday night, despite the weight of the boxes, and despite the three flights of stairs, we persevered: carrying collectively over 2500lbs to the top-floor chaplaincy space. The experience resonated with me as an example of Humanist dedication to helping out those in need despite unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, and I hope to find more opportunities to engage my values–put them in action, if you will–in the future.
And so, if you can make the time this Saturday, I’d hope you’d do the same. Take some time to reflect on what your tradition or philosophical perspective says about helping the unfortunate to you, and learn about what the face of poverty and starvation is in the Boston area. Abraham Lincoln asked that we “be sure to put [our] feet in the right place, then stand firm.” This weekend, let’s stand together, on the ground of shared values, and step forward in helping those in need.
6:00 p.m., Saturday, February 11th
BU College of Arts and Sciences, Room B12
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/293634374023913/
Walker Bristol is an undergraduate studying religion and linguistics at Tufts University, and the Community Organizer and Interfaith Representative for the Tufts Freethought Society. Originally from North Carolina, Walker was raised in a largely Quaker community before exploring several Christian traditions throughout high school and ultimately becoming a secular humanist at age 15. Walker serves as the chair of the Committee to Establish a Humanist Chaplaincy at Tufts, and has worked as a student intern at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Along with fellow Tufts Freethought board member Lauren Rose, Walker hosts the internet radio show FreethoughtCast. In addition to being involved in secular student activism, Walker is a hobbyist musician, ballroom dancer, and far-too-avid science-fiction fan. He tweets nonsense @GodlessWalker.