I recently watched a short film about hunger.
This film briefly shows a meal being ordered, prepared and consumed at a fast food restaurant.
It shows the purchaser consume the meal in part and then walk away leaving a large portion of the meal uneaten and sitting on the table.
Later, a man is shown collecting the viable scraps of food from the garbage in the kitchen.
He rides his bike from the restaurant to a rural village where he is chased down by some very happy children, who open the trash can and begin to feast.
Next, he enters his home where his children are seated at the table which is being set. There is a candle lit in the center of the table—not for light—but to set the mood.
It was dinnertime.
As the scraps are being sorted and distributed onto the plates, the children are excited and clapping their hands, practically dancing in the delight of the food that is being placed before them. One of the children enthusiastically dives into her meal when her father gives her a light tap on the hand and a smile.
He says grace.
With the purest of smiles, he radiates as he extends gratitude for the meal that sits before him.
I cried, no, I sobbed—my heart was broken (although it should be noted that there is not a single sad person in this film).
It wasn’t the witnessing of suffering that hurt—Beyond hunger, this film is about gratitude—it was their gratitude that burned.
At first, I wasn’t sure why, and then I realized I felt shame.
I felt shame for the conversation I had earlier with a close friend about my frustration with our culture of food—one that requires that we be educated against the “food” it contains. I also felt frustration with the number of people not getting this information, disregarding it, or in a situation where their food choices are far less about organic vs. conventional and more about price vs. volume.
I felt shame that just a few hours earlier I had thrown an apple in the trash because it wasn’t organic.
I felt shame for the million different choices and assumptions around the way that I consumed, even with things other than food.
I began to wonder when the last time was that I was so purely grateful for a meal, for the sun, for the sound of birds.
Saving the world is not just for super heroes.
All we have to do is slow down and make a decision to bring consciousness into our choices.
We can take the time to do the research—Where did this product come from? Was any sentient being harmed in any way by the production of this product?
We can remember to bring our reusable bags to the market because it only takes one plastic bag to injure a bird or sea animal, and everyone’s, “I’ll just get a bag this time,” really adds up.
We can drop food at a local food bank, and pick up litter on the sidewalk instead of stepping over it.
We can honor our world by extending our gratitude through our choices—even the small ones—every day.