A pointless parable to begin:
I was in line the other day at a discount store waiting to pay for a large bag of dry dog food; the line was not moving as quickly as I'd have liked (but what can you do?). The lady behind me, with a small handful of items, like a brush and a small bowl, probably to fill up the time, leaned forward to ask me if I had a dog.
"What gave it away?" I asked, and she tilted her head to point at the large bag of dog food on the floor to my left.
"Oh that," I noted, "actually that's part of my Purina diet."
Her face brightened in curiosity-a Purina diet, she asked. What was a Purina diet?
I told her I bought a large bag of dry dog food every week which I kept in the kitchen. When I was going out somewhere, I'd put a couple of handfuls of dry dog food in every pocket, jacket or trousers, and, in the course of the day, when I got hungry, I'd just reach into my pocket and snack on a handful of the dry dog food.
Did it work she wanted to know-could you lose really weight on the Purina diet?
Yes, I said, I lost over forty pounds in one month.
The line moved forward, and I had to adjust myself on my crutches, before grabbing my bag of dog food and inching forward. Forty pounds in a month, she excitedly whispered, is truly remarkable.
I agreed but pointed out there were side effects, using my arms to gesture to the casts on both legs and my crutches. She was momentarily non-plussed--how she demanded to know, how had the Purina Diet caused me to have two broken legs?
Well, I said, I was out here shopping a couple of weeks ago, and on my way back to the car, I had the uncontrollable urge to lick my privates and was run over by a pick-up truck.
However, in a world with 6.5 billion people with more than 60% going to sleep on an empty stomach every night until they die of starvation, when you enter into Goggle search the phrase, "over the counter diet aids sold in USA" (or just click on the link as I did it for you) in point 24 (0.24) seconds, faster than you can swallow a teaspoon of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, you have 149,000 listings. If every person in the US who wishes to lose twenty pounds, lost just ten, we'd have shed enough excess weight to populate a medium sized state (and sadly, one or more of the people running for President would be campaining there, even as I type).
As a nation we spend more on Slim-Fast and Jenny Craig than we donate to relief agencies that are trying to mitigate 'third world' hunger (a term I find quaintly inaccurate as there are millions of our own citizens going to bed hungry every night to include some in every town in Connecticut, the wealthiest state of all fifty of these united, and I sure don't think of myself as living in the Third World or in the Land of Second Chances, for that matter).
We've all gone to a fast food restaurant and heard someone order a cholesterol-bomb burger with cheese and bacon, large dipped in boiling fat french fried potatoes and, wait for it....a Diet Coke. No ice, please, I'm on a diet and the water from the ice makes me fat. Explains the size of the butts on those penguins and polar bears, right? Please. We fret that so many of the problems in our world are beyond our attempts at solution and demand to know why the 'government doesn't do something?' and for something like world hunger and malnutrition, all we have to do for one another is spend the same to relieve world hunger as we might spend at the drive-through, talking into the clown's head, getting those triple thick shakes and yogurt smoothies. Crisis averted.
It's Monday-so try this: track how much money you spend on food purchased or eaten outside of your house for the week. That doughnut with coffee this morning; that bag of chips this afternoon for the snack...count the pizzas, the pretzels, the chili hot dogs and the take-out sushi and the burgers and fries and ALL of it. Keep a running tab and look at the total next Sunday before you swing by that little joint you go to after Mass. Nothing like a triple stack of pancakes and a side of over easy eggs after Holy Communion, is there? Mmm, mmm, mmm. And all that syrup and butter. Hurray for the First World! To hell with the United Nations! Let's hear it for the International House of Pancakes...Willkommen, Bienvenue, welcome...There's a butterfly trapped in a spider's web.