I'm sure by now everyone has heard or read about the massive famine that was declared for certain regions of south central Somalia. This is disaster on the largest scale, with tens of thousands of Somalian casualties, and more and more dead everyday. Maybe it's because as North Americans we can't even imagine so much devastation, or maybe we're just immune from constantly being bombarded by news programs and newspaper headlines pronouncing tragedy after tragedy, but it's so easy to dismiss the issue at hand by changing the channel or flipping to the sports section. This time it's not so easy for me to push this to the back of my mind, and I challenge you not to push it away either.
As I'm writing this, I'm drinking a cup of coffee and planning what to do with the bounty of my garden. I was fortunate enough to be born in a developed country, but more than that, I was fortunate enough to be born in a place where the soil and weather conditions usually work in my favour. As a Canadian, living in the prairies, I'm probably standing on the best land in the world, in conditions that are more often than not conducive to a prosperous life. Could I be any more lucky?
Although I am grateful for my situation (that's an understatement), it is with a particular stab of guilt that I put on my rubber boots and trudge towards my garden. Just the other night, I had a BBQ with friends, and served three different kinds of meat (lamb, chicken AND pork ribs), gorgeous potatoes and garlic bread, and grilled vegetables. Add in a few bottles of wine and even more bottles of beer, and you have yourself a good time. After this feast was over, you know what I thought? I really should have made dessert. We didn't even say grace or take a moment to be thankful for what was in front of us. We just dug in, like it was our birthright to be so spoiled. On the other side of the world, there are people whose lives could be saved by drinking the dirty dish water I used to clean up after our meal.
Now, feeling guilty will not keep those unfortunate souls in the Horn of Africa from starving to death. But being conscience and present in our own lives will go a long way towards being compassionate and generous beings. If you can afford it ( and we live in the top 1% of the worlds richest people, so I'm sure you could scrounge up something) why not send a donation via World Vision or any other non-profit organization to help the cause. Send $10 if you can. I spent more than that on a can of hairspray this week. I know $10 doesn't seem like much, especially when $300 million is needed to alleviate the suffering, but haven't you ever heard of the fable of The Crow and The Pitcher, in which a crow needs a drink of water, but can't reach the bottom of the pitcher to drink? So he goes and throws pebbles, one at a time into the pitcher to displace the water and bring the water level up so he could finally have a sip. A tiny pebble doesn't seem like much either, but each one is absolutely essential in achieving what seems impossible.
The Gibson family farm has been in our family since 1906. It has been a fully functioning farm the whole time. My Grandfather and Great-Grandfather grew mostly canola and durum, and for the past ten years my father has been raising sheep. Our farm is located in the south-west corner of Saskatchewan. I grew up mostly in the city of Saskatoon, spending my summers out at the farm. You could say I have a bit of farm-kid in me. The farm spans for hundreds of acres around the farmhouse, but the garden is just down a path through the yard. This is where the magic happens...