It was my third year doing NaNoWriMo and I wanted new music to help me set the scene for my story. Gothic. Dark and stormy. Evil. So I searched different forums for suggestions, and when I went to a nearby used music store, I came home with H.I.M. and Skillet and maybe a couple others. I quickly realized, for setting or not, Skillet was an awesome group. I’d loved their music on the radio without even knowing it was theirs.
After two or three, maybe four listens through the CD, I stopped hearing the lyrics and only heard the sounds: the beat, the tempo, the edge I wanted in my story. As the words faded into the back of mind, I would sing them mindlessly… “So many nations with so many hungry people,” I’d say, my hands typing away, “So many homeless scrounging around for dirty needles; On the rise, teen suicide…”
Then today, walking home from work, I had my iPod on shuffle and it threw their sound to my ears once more. I wasn’t singing this time (it draws looks), but I was listening–and I realized, for all these years I’ve been singing their songs, I hadn’t heard a word they said.
A few weeks ago I took a trip up to D.C. I’ll get around to talking about it with more flavor in time, but part of our weekend consisted of distributing food to the city’s homeless community. At first it was only a few people we saw here and there, and they happily took the bananas and water we were offering, but then, later on, we turned the corner, and to say we saw a crowd would be an understatement. Within minutes, all we had to offer was given away–and still, dozens came up to us, asking if we had any water to spare, any water at all.
There are no words to describe the sound of a grown woman asking for water, no words to convey the pleading note of her voice, her words broken as they climbed from a parched throat and tumbled over her cracked lips.
No words at all can capture the sounds of her pleas.
No words to capture the emptiness inside when you have nothing left to give. No words to convey the pain seeping into you, the pain of being unable to offer water to someone who’s thirsty and unable to get any of her own. No words to convey the sadness in her eyes when you tell her you’ve got nothing left to give. She doesn’t see people often offering relief, there’s no telling when another group of volunteers will come by with another batch of donated goods, she doesn’t know when she’ll get her next taste of clean water.
Yet we walk home, pull open the fridge, and imbibe soft drinks and juices and scoff at anything that pours from the tap. It isn’t enough that we have clean water–we can’t appreciate a single drop of it.
The truth is this scene happens every day–and it happens everywhere. Back at Guilford Tech, I helped work at our campus food pantry, and again, I cannot find the words to describe how it feels to see a young man, practically identical to yourself if perhaps more handsome, coming into your office and asking for food. At first I felt awkward taking people back into the food pantry, but as student after student came to ask for help, I felt more and more for each of them. It takes a lot to ask for help, and it takes a lot more to ask for food when you can’t find it on your own. We live in the United States, we think, so we should be able to get our own food.
The truth is there are far too many who can’t.
I’m interning with a group called NCPIRG this semester. We’ve been working alongside the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness as a part of their annual Hunger Clean Up–a massive fundraising event to raise money for Feeding America, a non-profit working to end hunger in the United States. We’ve had tabling events, bake sales, and more, yet the need is still there–hunger has yet to end, not in our nation, not in our own backyards.
The fundraising continues, but perhaps sharing the word here, helping to raise awareness of this very real and deeply saddening issue, we can gain enough momentum to begin making the policy and social changes necessary to end these problems forever.
Until then, thousands, if not millions, go hungry every day. If you are able to, I urge you to make a donation to Feeding America today; you can make an online contribution here. If you’re unable to make a donation, please consider sharing this post with your friends, family, classmates, coworkers, and communities–only by raising awareness will we be able to win the fight against hunger in America.
I became a savior to some kids I’ll never meet
Sent a check in the mail to buy them something to eat
What will you do to make a difference, to make a change?
What will you do to help someone along the way?
– Looking for Angels, Skillet