Tuesday, February 24, 2015
This afternoon I sat in my friend's office while she described her recent vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia. She showed me a particularly poignant picture: a young mother in a threadbare dress, hugging her adorable little son, who didn't look more than about 4 years old. The tyke's clothes were also worn, with shredded holes in his pants. They both looked a little sombre, as they posed with serious expressions for the camera. But what really caught my eye was the boy's toy - he held in his hand a thin rope, which dangled down and at the other end was tied to a small rat. Yes, his pet/toy was a rat. My friend told me that rats feed on the remnants and husks leftover from rice harvests, and that they also ended up being food - she was served cooked rat during her trip.
So now I am thinking about my ridiculously privileged life, where I have access to so much food and have abused this abundance over the years to such a degree that I needed medical intervention in order to put me back on a healthy track. And meanwhile there are so many people in the world, like that Cambodian mother and her son, who have so little that a rat at the end of a string is a plaything and then will later be dinner. This injustice isn't news to me of course, and long ago we decided to focus our charity dollars on poverty groups. But it's not often that I have such a stark visual reminder of how messed up this world is, that fellow human beings can have such wildly different situations when it comes to basic necessities such as food.