We All Need to Eat

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Our need for the most basic tangible items is something that has long been recognized. In 1843, Abraham Maslow proposed his now famous and widely recognized “Hierarchy of Needs”. I do not necessarily ascribe to every aspect of the theory, but it would be very hard to argue with the idea that certain physiological needs are at the most fundamental level of life. It would be hard to even consider our need for anything else without first quenching our need for water, food, and rest.

This is easy to recognize when we look at children. Their world revolves around their need and desire for the satisfaction of their tangible needs. However, our affinity for the tangible does not end when we leave childhood. While this desire can certainly be taken to the extreme, it is innately part of who we are given that we are tangible, living things.

Maslow, of course, was only observing what has been clear since the beginning of time. One only has to read two sentences after God created humankind in the book of Genesis in the Bible to find that he also provided food. In fact, the food was so important God created the sources of food before he created the people who would eat it.

It is easy to take this most basic level of human need for granted living in a First-World, Developed Nation like the United States. However, it probably should not be. While most people living in the United States are more worried about what they are going to have for dinner than whether they will have it at all, there are still many who do not have this luxury.

No matter where you live in the United States, you more than likely live within a thirty minute drive of entire neighborhoods that live in poverty. For many of these people the question of where the next meal will come from is very real. This can have a great impact on a person’s outlook on life.

The reality is this socio-economic divide is a huge issue for our world today. There is much debate as to how we reached this point, and how much worse it actually is now in comparison to the past, but there is no debate about its existence. Two kids might go to the same school, but that does not mean they live the same life with the same opportunities. This gap has many physiological and psychological consequences that has the potential to shape a person’s life.

Growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore, I had some exposure to this reality. This was primarily because of my parents’ willingness to expose me to it in the form of serving with my church. This opened my eyes to the fact that my margin for error when it came to meeting my most basic tangible needs was far greater than that of many other people in this world.

Those moments played an important role in my understanding of how similar we are despite our differences. I realized that I could have easily been on the other side of the serving line at the shelters and meal distribution programs at which I served had my life or the lives of my parents gone differently. Our most basic tangible needs were the same, but our opportunity to fulfill those needs were very different.

Nothing revealed this reality to me more than my first time in Nicaragua. More on that next time.

– James Belt

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