St. Francis of Assisi reportedly said: “Start doing what’s necessary and then what is possible. Suddenly, you will then find yourself doing what is impossible.” What if we cannot agree on what is necessary? How do we move forward?
In the Declaration of Independence one can find an often-quoted phrase written by Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all … are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Jefferson went on to describe these rights as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Are these necessary?
We cannot help others is we do not agree on what is necessary. How can we ever seek to make ordinary time extraordinary if we cannot agree on what should be ordinary or common in one’s life? This is an important issue because if education for all is ordinary, why do people have to go to such extraordinary lengths to obtain it and why do others go to such terroristic lengths to prevent it?
Recent aid organizations have requested assistance in helping those areas devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Many in those areas have asked that people donate to local charities rather than the international organizations. The problem is that many times the local groups are fraught with malfeasance, even more so than the larger groups. Local officials prefer to build their personal coffers rather than distribute the aid received because their idea of what is necessary is skewed and narcissitic.
In my humble opinion, it should be necessary for a nation to provide food for its citizens as well as availability to health care. That health care should include mental and emotional health as well as physical, dental, and vision. Currently, a national healthcare program in one country for the elderly will pay for an eye examination but not for any required reading apparatus such as glasses. Most people know when their eye sight in waning. Why bother to have a doctor verify it if the program will not correct the vision problems?
The education of women is a hotly contested debate in many Islamic countries and yet, in others where Islam has existed since its infancy, many women are renowned scientists and mathematicians. The Quran emphasizes personal growth and achieving what one is capable. Why then are young girls abducted from their schools and sold into slavery? Why is it not necessary for the gender of the human race that brings life into the world to be afforded a full life themselves?
Maybe it is because of the root of the word “unalienable”. The word comes from the Latin “alius” which means “other.” There are many words in the English language that use this word as their root. They include alien and alias. Say the word “alien” to many people and they began to think of little green beings from another planet. The legal definition is not even in agreement on exactly what an alien is except to describe it as “other”. This might be one Latin word whose derivatives actually are quite close to the root word.
In Great Britain, legally an alien might be a citizen of the republic of Ireland. In the USA they are legal aliens and illegal aliens. In common law they are “friendly aliens and enemy aliens, with the latter comprising not only citizens of hostile states but also all others voluntarily living in enemy territory or carrying on business there; enemy aliens are subject to additional disabilities.”
This concept of aliens having authorized disabilities was of great interest to me. It refers to their not being able to own property but they can amass what is called a personal estate which means they can have personal possessions. Another disability is that they are subject to taxation of all earnings and wages, cannot be a member of Congress or elected to President (in the USA) or, in many states, serve as governor. They also cannot vote, fill any office, or serve as a juror. For this reason, all illegal aliens found to have committed a crime are sent to their home county and not prosecuted here. It would be necessary to have a jury of their peers if such prosecution occurred and one could argue that they would be impossible since their peers would be other aliens who could not serve on a jury. In this case, necessary would mean deportation.
Is food and proper clothing necessary? Certainly medical science has proven that it is for one to have a healthy life. Why then, are there not programs that guarantee such for all, especially our children? One of the most stable ways to store food is the canned food industry. While other industries have suffered in the past fifteen years, the canned food industry has reported a steady increase in production and revenue. The canned food industry is involved in the retail sales of canned ready meals, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned pasta and noodles, canned desserts, and canned seafood and meat products.
What if each of us donated a can of canned good for every can we purchased? Even if we donated one can for every three purchased, we could go a long way in providing necessary food for those who have none. Canned vegetables represent the leading market segment, generating $1.2 billion in 2010, accounting for almost 31% of the overall market in the United Kingdom. The Asia-Pacific canned food industry recorded yearly growth in excess of 4% between 2006 and 2010, reaching almost $15 billion in 2010. Canned meat products represented the leading market segment at close to $7 billion, accounting for 48% of the overall market. Canned vegetables represented the leading market segment in the USA generating $4.5 billion, accounting for over 31% of the overall market. Last year this number was expected to rise to $16 billion. These figures, by the way, are from the canned food industry, not arbitrary estimates.
Given the above statistics, if one third of purchases were matched by donations, the hungry of the world would have $5 billion to eat in the Asia-Pacific market, $400 million in the UK, and $5.3 billion in the USA. For the cost of one canned good item, we could give to the world of hungry children almost $6 billion worth of food. Is feeding the hungry necessary?
In 2002, Abby Adams-Silvan wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times. In it she wrote: “Food for the starving should be a major priority in the war against terrorism. The survivors of today’s famines and the diseases of starvation may well be the terrorists of tomorrow. This is not only because of sociological consequences, but also because nutritional deprivation, before as well as after birth, causes brain as well as body deformation. The failure of the rich countries to place a high priority on efforts like the World Food Summit, and the startling drop in global aid, reflect a dramatic lack of self-interested foresight as well as of altruistic humanitarianism.”
We can do batter in our fight for a better living. We do have to stop defining those who are the ‘other” as sub-human and realize we are all in this living together. When we address the ordinary and make it possible for all to experience it, then we will have made life extraordinary.