Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hannah's Stolen Words of the Week

We have been trained to look
Away, shamed eyes
Dropping like my embarrassed glance at
A handicapped person, as I guess
Some of them are
Or a drunk, as I guess
Some of them are,
Or a crazy person, as I guess
Some of them are.
As if that way it won't matter;
They'll disappear like snowflakes
When we step inside. And I've
Discovered, mastered even, technique:
If I close my ears, squint
My eyes they do
Nearly, almost disappear,
Leaving only a faint
Twinge of guilt that can actually be
I use my gender as an
Excuse. It's not safe. Better
Not acknowledge another
Human being trying to
Cope with a loss of
Awakened this once by frozen eyes,
I dig deep into pockets and pride
Wondering what we all can afford.
I happened upon some
Spare change.


Spare Change was written by Courtney E. Belcher, a student at Wheaton College (the west of Chicago).

Her words hit me hard. They hit true. I've been taught it's not safe to give money to a beggar. I've been taught not to help anyone with a flat tire. I've been taught the world is a dangerous place. And it is. It's dangerous to get so caught up in being safe, that we stop looking for ways we can help and create effective change. Getting out of our comfort zone is exactly that: uncomfortable. I have a hard time getting away from what I know, what's easy, convenient, self-serving. It's scary to do otherwise.

This afternoon, I'm heading with my friend Kaity to help with Food Not Bombs. If it hadn't been for her initiative, I wouldn't have been brave enough to get connected with people I've never met before. These people are rad.

Courtney Belcher is right. We can all afford to take part in change. If at first we can't step out of our comfort zone, we can begin by reaching. Today, I'll be reaching. Tomorrow, maybe I'll learn to step.

From the main Food Not Bombs website:
Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world every week to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment.

From Wikipedia:
Each chapter collects surplus food that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, bakeries and markets, sometimes incorporating dumpster diving, then prepares community meals which are served for free to anyone who is hungry. The central beliefs of the group are:

* If governments and corporations around the world spent as much time and energy on feeding people as they do on war, no one would go hungry.
* There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but too much of it goes to waste needlessly, as a direct result of capitalism and militarism.
* Vegan food is both healthy and nonviolent.

Food Not Bombs works to call attention to poverty and homelessness in society by sharing food in public places and facilitating gatherings of poor and homeless people. Anyone who wants to cook may cook, and anyone who wants to eat may eat. Food Not Bombs strives to include everyone.

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