Empathy is stronger than sympathy

In a world of excess, where half the food we buy away is thrown away and half that is grown feeds livestock, millions of people live in chronic hunger. I have often thought, whilst sat drinking my coffee, that I’ve just spent on a couple of hot drinks what some people have to live on a week (including health costs etc). So with time being my closest friend at the moment, I am getting on with trying to live below the line.

I’m late but better late than never they say. I get $10 Australian (or about five of your English pounds) to go shopping and eat for five days.

According to the Oxford dictionary:  Hunger is a term which has three meanings (Oxford English Dictionary 1971)

  • the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. Also the exhausted condition caused by want of food
  • the want or scarcity of food in a country
  • a strong desire or craving

Of these three definitions, I will not want for the scarcity of food in Melbourne but may face exhaustion or cravings. Initially I will be doing this for five days but may increase the duration as the end approaches. I have the luxury of being able to go back to my life where excess is the norm for most of us, but for over 1 billion people, that is a dream beyond their comprehension.

I went to a popular local supermarket and bought the following:

  • Bread
  • Rice – 1kg
  • Oats – 900g
  • Banana
  • Cannellini beans – 1 tin
  • Unsalted butter

For a total of $9.60. I will try to upload a daily video and blog, you’ll be able to follow the video on my YouTube channel. A lot of people do this challenge to raise money for poverty awareness, I do not have an account for that but if you would like to support the below the line projects then you could sponsor someone who has recently completed their below the line fundraiser on the link provided here.

For more info on below the line events see the links below.

https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk/the_cause
http://www.thehungerproject.co.uk/getinvolved/live-below-the-line/

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Tolerance but not of the rich but of poverty

As news that the richest 1% will hold more wealth than the majority of the world’s population blows up on the BBC (like we didn’t already know #wearethe99% anyone??!) watch this gem from Kevin O’Leary, who thinks that poverty is “fantastic”.

You couldn’t actually write this stuff. As pointed out by the anchor, the people he is talking about don’t have socks to pull up.

On the radio today, there was someone arguing we should accept the rich and tolerate them. The issue for me, however, is not that we need to tolerate the rich but that we have learned to tolerate poverty. Too often we dismiss those in need without a second glance or thought. We walk past people in need everyday but at some point we have to stop and ask why that person is struggling. There is always a reason and by learning to understand these reasons, we can better break down the stigma that is attached.

We carry the banner for hope and change ourselves

It is tnteresting times that we are living today, interesting that we would rather attack each other for being scroungers, layabouts or immigrants when there is a bigger picture here and that is of the financiers who are actually responsible for austerity, not the NHS, teachers, police, fire or armed forces; walking free and being encouraged to do it all over again.

These banks have had minimal fines, no one has gone to jail, they still get billion pounds worth of bonuses and Osborne has committed to the biggest spending cuts in over 70 years. Sticking together has never been more necessary.

No one has gone to jail… well if you are guilty of fraud, as was the case for RBS personnel (again) then the judge will let you walk away because you have “suffered enough.” Steal 15 Toblerone however and you go straight to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200.

This austerity will affect everyone in a way we have yet to grasp, if we think the last 5 years have been rough with the rise of food banks, return of rickets, 1 in 4 working poor and 90,000 children homeless this Christmas, we will be in for a shock. Which ever party wins the next election, we lose. Austerity is the ideology and we are the vessels from which they are generating their wealth. We can only rely on ourselves to make the change, no one else is going to carry the banner of hope for us.

J crawling

We are living in a moment of history, what we do next will define the lives of generations to come. Lets make it something to remember for the right reasons.