Mankind’s Growing Hunger
The current food crisis has been declared a ‘silent tsunami’ in recent headlines. Kabbalah explains the root of the problem, and shows us how to avert this growing threat
Actually, food shortages are nothing new—they have shaped civilizations since the days when Pharaohs ruled Egypt. In the past 50 years alone, famines in Africa, North Korea, China, and Cambodia have claimed millions of lives. So why are world leaders today so alarmed by the current situation?
In Pharaoh’s time, a famine in Egypt didn’t affect tribes wandering the plains of America. In contrast, today’s crisis ripples across the entire world. Global food prices have risen 83% in the past three years, making it almost impossible for the world’s poorest nations to feed their people. More than 70 countries spanning every continent are now facing critical shortages. Moreover, famine is no longer limited to third world countries. Even developed countries like the United States are facing soaring food prices that are impoverishing the once-comfortable middle class. This time, hunger is truly global.
Creating the Crisis
Experts have identified many contributing factors to the crisis, but the simple fact is that the demand for food is growing faster than the supply available. There are an estimated 6.5 billion people living on the planet today. That means the population has more than doubled in less than 50 years. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!
In addition, our consumption patterns are changing, with the United States leading the way. Americans eat and eat and eat! Today, 64% of Americans are obese or overweight. And the problem isn’t just how much we eat, but what we eat. The cows that supply us with hamburgers, steaks and dairy products eat grain, and lots of it. This means there is less grain available for human consumption, and the land that could be used to grow crops is instead used for grazing.
As developing countries such as China become more affluent, they are adopting our eating patterns, placing further demands on the system. Obesity is on the rise worldwide, and the demand for meat is skyrocketing.
The net result is that an estimated 100 million people need assistance just to survive. Already, hunger-related causes claim the life of a child every five seconds. And when parents are unable to feed their children, they get desperate. Protests have been staged from London to Yemen and from Mexico to Africa, and they have turned violent in several countries.
It seems incredible that people are fighting over food, and children are starving to death amidst the so-called progress of the 21st century. It may surprise you to know that the earth is actually capable of feeding everyone! Agriculture around the globe today produces 17% more calories per person than it did 30 years ago. According to a CNN article on May 8, 2008, top economist Jeffrey D. Sachs estimates that it would cost every person in the developed world $10 to double Africa's food production. However, these rich countries seem to have “left the poorest of the poor to their misery.”
While in principle, everyone could be happy, in reality our vast resources are being consumed by a relative few while others go without the necessities of life.
Seeing the Full Picture
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that we can’t solve anything before we acknowledge the root of the problem—our egoistic nature. Kabbalists, who have risen above egoism and attained a connection with nature’s altruistic force, explain that this altruistic force is continuously pushing us to be balanced and harmonized with it. At the same time, however, our egoism is steadily growing. The increasing contrast between our egoistic nature and the higher, altruistic force of nature results in all the crises we see around us, whether economic, ecological, or the recent food crisis.
Some people try to fix things through external actions, such as handing out food or donating money, but this only scratches the surface while blurring the true source of the problem. If we don’t fix our egoistic nature, we haven’t really fixed anything. The imbalances will keep growing, the problems will worsen, and the suffering will affect more and more people until no one will be able to escape. Eventually, the suffering will be so extreme that we will be forced to realize that all our problems are caused by one thing—our egoistic nature.
Creating a New Scenario
Kabbalah suggests that we can avert this scenario by creating a new scenario, one in which we decide to change our egoistic nature before our suffering leaves us no other choice. The method of Kabbalah is like a magnifying glass that helps us see the root of the problem. It teaches us how to develop in harmony with nature—how to perceive ourselves as one integrated human organism, instead of as separate individuals.
The food crisis is a reflection of the discord between our growing egoism and the altruistic force that is pushing us to work as one body. It shows us that the problem is in how we relate to each other. Presently, people don’t feel their interconnectedness. Some people gorge themselves while others are starving.
Imagine what it would be like if those who over-consumed immediately felt the hunger pangs of those who were forced to go without. How long do you think it would take us to solve the crisis? Over-consumption would stop almost immediately, and everyone would go out of their way to make sure that others had plenty to eat!
It’s hard for us to acknowledge that we are the source of our problems. We will explore all possible alternatives before we accept the only true solution—the need to change ourselves. Hence, Kabbalists offer us their method, which will lift us above our egoism and open our eyes to the reality that is right in front of us. Then, we will not only stop going against our higher development, but we will also discover its beauty, and continue the process of our own accord.