The invitation to write on the topic of food security for this year’s CFJ Lenten blog led to me feeling… well, quite insecure. While I readily comment on the injustices connected to the modern food industry in the United States and the lack of adequate food available to millions of people across the globe, food security consists of a plethora of complexities that I actually know very little about. Moreover, there has never been a time in my life when I did not have access to more than enough food to sustain a healthy diet. Thus, the question arose in my mind of whether I have anything meaningful to contribute to the topic. After allowing this uncomfortable feeling of insecurity to reside in my head for a week, I accepted that it was not going away and that I still had to write a post. I also realized that this feeling has something to teach me and perhaps it might offer an insight to readers.
Upon further reflection, my discomfort with the topic of food security is not limited to my ignorance and privileged life. As I write this, there are an estimated, “870 million people around the world who do not have access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food.” Further, “Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.” These numbers suggest that over one-hundred children died as a result of food insecurity during the time I wrote this post. Such statistics are staggering and difficult for me to digest especially when there exists enough food for all persons on earth to survive and pursue a life of meaning. When I allow myself to think about these stats for more than a fleeting moment, various feelings arise including guilt, shame, sadness, inadequacy, anger, and doubt. When I think about these stats for a lengthier period of time, I feel overwhelmed, which typically leads to a feeling of indifference—a feeling connected to a belief that there is nothing worthwhile that I can do to address an issue that kills by the minute.
So, how might I respond during this Lenten season? How might I address the discomfort, guilt, indifference? Repent! No, not in the manner that Christians often understand repentance due to a poor translation. I do not believe that God wants or needs me to beg for forgiveness, and it seems absurd to me that such pleading will affect the injustice of food insecurity. Rather, repent in the manner that appears to be much closer to Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels. The Greek word “metanoia”, which is often translated to the word “repent” in English, focuses on having a change of mind and to think differently. This can be really hard and certainly uncomfortable. Thinking differently can involve significant changes in one’s lifestyle, relationships, and behaviors. Yet, as a follower of Jesus I am called to change the way I think and perceive the world so that my love more closely resembles God’s unconditional love.
What lesson did I learn from writing a Lenten blog post on food security? What insight did I come up with? God continually calls me to change what I think and how I think and sometimes to simply think about issues that cause me to feel insecure. I cannot specifically say what this entails for me this Lent, but I find myself eager to see what unfolds. I also expect that I need to permit myself to feel uncomfortable for any significant change to take place.
Greg Mellor is in his second year as Assistant Director, Faith and Ministry in CFJ. Outside of Xavier, he is excited to start a vegetable and herb garden at his home this spring with his housemates. On Friday nights, he can be found at Moriah Pie in Norwood contemplatively eating the best pizza in Cincinnati.