These statistics from an anonymous source jumped right off my computer screen the other day and have stayed in my consciousness ever since. The statistics have much to say to us on this Thanksgiving holiday.
"If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change somewhere in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy. If you can read this, you are more blessed than over two billion people around the world who cannot read at all."
The obvious message is that we should count our blessings. We should give thanks and not grumble when there is no hot water for our shower, no dessert at supper, or when the newspaper is late. We should be grateful and not complain about our spouses, children, parents, in-laws or neighbors. We should be positive and not negative. We should do that every day, of course, but especially on Thanksgiving Day.
Perhaps if we thought of the cholera epidemics decimating Haiti or those families entombed in mudslides in Mexico, Guatemala and China, we would not complain about the petty inconvenience in our privileged lives. Such thoughts are not morose; they are heartbreaking facts that help us keep things in perspective. And they help us be grateful.
As we sit down at table with family and friends, we should also be grateful for health. Yet some of us whine about our arthritis or indigestion. We could remind ourselves that our knees might ache and creak, but at least we can walk. Our stomachs might give us heartburn, but at least we can eat. We might also remember those thousands in hospitals with metastasized cancers or debilitating strokes. They are unable to attend their families' feasts.
We should, however, do more than just think about those less fortunate. We should do something for them. We could write a check for Haitian relief or visit the sick in hospitals. We could bring meals to a shut in or support the Empty Bowls Project. Such generosity will help others -- and it will also reward us. As Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose."
I conclude with a version of World Hunger Grace. It's from the Girl Scout "Our Chalet Song Book." Even if we don't pray these words when we sit at table, we should give them thought : and it's also a good segue into an announcement about the Empty Bowls Project.
For food in our world, where many walk in hunger,
For peace in our world, where many walk in fear,
For hope in our world, where many walk alone,
For light in our world, where many walk in darkness.
We give You thanks, O God.
The Empty Bowls Project is an international group, which has raised tens of millions of dollars worldwide to combat world hunger. Guests purchase bowls and a simple meal of soup and bread and keep the bowls as a continuing reminder of hunger.
The United States, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Hong Kong have held Empty Bowl events. . These events have raised public awareness about hunger and have offered potters, caterers and other volunteers hands-on involvement to help alleviate world hunger. Businesses donate all the materials and food for Empty Bowl events. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to feed the hungry.