Sitting in my warm house with all our stuff. Made a cup of tea. Looked at all the stuff in the fridge – a full refrigerator – and had the thought that many people don’t have full fridges like this. Many people open a fridge door hoping to see plenty of food only to find that they have the last quart of milk, maybe some kind of meat, maybe some kind of vegetable. If they live where they can get vegetables, that is. Then my thoughts stumble over the look at the elephant in the fridge, er, in the room – that I should be doing something to help people who don’t have enough to eat.
As I write this, letting it grow from a thought to a confession, I feel this guilt about not doing more now, already. The guilt makes me sad. And I know this sadness because I’ve felt it before – it is a sadness whose companion is inaction. Guilt and inaction, really. I feel guilty and that prevents action. Is that causal or concurrent? I feel guilty about many things and still take action, such as eating an entire box of Oreos – I felt the guilt when I bought them, yet I ate them. Truly, the $3.39 I spent on them I could have saved, put with some other money and sent to a hunger relief organization. I could have taken that box of cookies across the street to the food pantry and not opened them at all. Maybe that’s a different kind of guilt? Or not guilt at all, but shame? No shame would be the inaction. Guilt would still be the main feeling.
I don’t need to analyze it to know that there are times when I feel something and I need to take action, and other times when I feel I need to not take action. Helping people – take action. Eating a whole box of cookies – don’t take action.
I sometimes fantasize having a membership to one of the food warehouses like BJ’s or Costco’s and buying lots of food to take to the food pantry here in my home town. Or that I win the lottery and can fix up all the stores on our little Main Street in the village and give people jobs. Or buying an empty, old grocery store not too far from here and turn it into a solar panel factory. But there’s so much to overcome my brain says. So much paying and working with others to make such things happen – the state and fed governments, local tax people, all sorts of inspectors, on and on. So it’s not just buying a building after winning the lottery, it’s everything else. The inertia of it all. It’s like the next layer of inaction. How does anything get accomplished in this world?
Maybe the lesson here is to be thankful that someone overcame personal and/or cultural inertia to accomplish what we have today. Obviously, it is not impossible – just a lot of work. Which brings me back to my original thought about having a full fridge. I know how I accomplished having one – I worked in exchange for money, which in turn I exchanged for goods. I overcame inaction/inertia in order to do this. So I know that I could do the same in helping others. Ok, so I can do it. I can overcome inertia to help others.
Now… what kind of help? This saying comes to mind: “Give a person a fish and they eat for a day; teach a person to fish and they eat for a lifetime.” [or until the fish run out]. What do they pay me for at work? My creativity. My ability to solve problems. Mostly my creativity. I think. I take action, I think some more. I take more action. So let’s say I apply my mind to the issue of hunger. Whoa, way too big! Ok. Hunger in America. Whoa, again, still too big. Hunger in NY? getting closer to manageable. Hunger in my county? Maybe. Hunger in my town? Likely the best target. So I’ve already applied one way of breaking down a problem so I don’t feel like I’m pushing against a mountain of inaction.
Next step. Well, if I apply my same kind of thinking to it, I would have to say I do research. I study the issue. I see all the curves and angels to it. This is usually before I take some kind of action. So research is also observing. I wonder if I could volunteer at the food pantry? That might give me some additional insights that could lead to ideas.
I’m stopping here and I’ll check in later to let you know if I’ve made any headway.
Post note: I did not volunteer at the food pantry. I’m still waiting on myself to just do it.