Note: On our (The Bardo Group and Beguine Again, publishers of The BeZine) 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty, which is our theme for September. I’m sharing some of the conversation there. If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know. All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation. Instructions will be in our blog that day. Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability.
Thanks to Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) and Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) for encouraging thought and discussion around poverty and homelessness. How about exploring poverty and hunger, often referred to these days as “food insecurity?” (Better, I think, to call it by its true name.)
One question, for example: How do our consumption patterns contribute to hunger? We first started thinking about and taking action on this (those of us who have been around long enough) with the publication of Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet in 1971 in which she explored the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises.
Here is part of an overview of the UN’s 1998 report on inequity in consumption courtesy of Anup Shah of Global Issues :
“Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base. It is exacerbating inequalities. And the dynamics of the consumption-poverty-inequality-environment nexus are accelerating. If the trends continue without change — not redistributing from high-income to low-income consumers, not shifting from polluting to cleaner goods and production technologies, not promoting goods that empower poor producers, not shifting priority from consumption for conspicuous display to meeting basic needs — today’s problems of consumption and human development will worsen.
… The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects.
… Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. More specifically, the richest fifth:
Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%
Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%
Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%
Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%
Own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%
Runaway growth in consumption in the past 50 years is putting strains on the environment never before seen.”
— Human Development Report 1998 Overview, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — Emphasis Added. Figures quoted use data from 1995
– Posted by me last night on The BeZine 100 100TPC 2015 Facebook Public Group Page
Here is some of the discussion that followed. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section below.
“There was a report by Oxfam, a couple of years ago I think, that produced even more extreme statistics regarding the very small percentage of those who own the vast majority of the world’s assets! I shall have to dig it out.” John Anstie
“interesting and arresting….but let’s not forget waste….have you ever seen what supermarkets throw away each day? It’s criminal.” Jacqueline Dick
“In a number of urban areas, groups collect “waste” from groceries and even restaurants to distribute to those in need. It should be done more widely. And, for the environment, what is beyond salvage should be composted, not tossed into landfills or incinerators.” Michael Dickel
“I wonder how many of us are vegan or willing to go go vegan because land used to feed and raise meat and poultry can be put to better use – and more environmentally sound use – to sufficiently feed the earth’s population on plants? Lappe first brought this to our attention in ’71 followed by many others including John Robbins and Will Tuttle*. There is sufficient body of study to support this, which along with animal cruelty and human health is driving the trend to plant-based food consumption.” Jamie Dedes
* If people don’t have enough to eat, don’t have clean water, and don’t have employment, their anger will foster hostilities. So, for those who feel disconnected from hunger issues because it’s not in front of them and they have enough to eat, I would submit that in the interest of self-preservation world hunger needs to be faced and addressed compassionately and pragmatically. I don’t know how many people outside the vegan community are familiar with Will Tuttle’s work. Dr. Tuttle is professional pianist and composer, he’s an eloquent spokesperson for the vegan imperative. I strongly recommend his book The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Harmony.
The reference to “Earthlings” in the video is about the movie, which I reviewed in 2011 and which I have scheduled to post here tomorrow.
May all sentient beings find peace.
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
– Metta (amity, good will) Prayer (Buddhist)
Photo credit: Jamie Dedes