It's Ramadan and I'm joining my Muslim friends who have been fasting during daylight hours since the beginning of the month. I've fasted a couple of days each Ramadan for the past couple of years. I wrote about it here last year.
My motivation is a bit different this year though. The first year was definitely in solidarity with my housemates. The three guys I was living with went to a lot of trouble making delicious Iftar meals for us all. The pleasure of breaking fast together in the evening was all the more joyful because it was a shared experience.
Besides from convivial solidarity, my motivations have expanded this year.
Literally billions of people around the world go hungry every day.
By not eating today, I will experience the hunger that many, many people experience due to poverty. Through no choice of their own, half the global population are designated "in poverty". Which surely demonstrates how broken our global community is. The excesses of the West are known to impact the global south through climate change which, as individuals, we have little power to change.
This article from Noema Magazine highlights how "the richest 10% of people are responsible for 52% of cumulative global emissions — and the 1% for a full 15%."
These statics aren't really that shocking anymore, there's been so much publicity about climate change and what should be done. It's easy to feel worn down - like there's little point in stressing about the short journey I just drove when rich people fly around the world on private jets.
This article in Where the Leaves Fall accepts the importance of children being well fed so that they can concentrate and learn effectively. The article isn't all just doom and gloom, but has some good news stories of the successes of projects around the world in providing free school meals. Hurray! The wider impact on the community when children can thrive in a variety of ways is huge. Finland is a prime example, Tanja Grén credits the availability of free school meals with "turning Finland from a poor, war-torn state into a prosperous, welfare nation."
Later on today, when my tummy is rumbling and my mind wanders to what delicious meal I'll be able to savour tonight, I'll think too about those without enough to eat. Of course I'll think of my friends in Bosnia, trapped by the EU's borders. I'll think of my Muslim friends fasting and praying, and I'll think of the millions of hungry children, eager for a better future, whose lives are impacted by the greed of the West.
I usually try to finish a blog post with a call to action, but I'm struggling to suggest a cause to support or charity to donate to in this instance. The issues are too broad. I can only think to suggest that we must all be outward looking, be kind to those around us and consider ways to tackle bigger issues in ways that our own mental health can manage.
As always, comments and suggestions welcome. Do you fast? What small steps can we take to change the inequalities about food availability?