Why Should Buddhists Be Concerned About Global Hunger?
The chief qualities of the heart emphasized in Buddhism are metta and karuna, loving-kindness and compassion. The Buddha says that we should extend our love and compassion universally to all beings throughout the world, protecting them “as a mother protects her only child.” The way to express compassion in action is generosity, and the most essential gift for sustaining life is the gift of food. The Buddha said “hunger is the worst kind of illness” (Dhammapada 203). He also declared: “If people knew the results of giving, they wouldn’t eat without having shared their meal with others” (Itivuttaka 26). Taking these words to heart, we should each make it our personal mission to do what we can to eliminate world hunger.
In an age that has made our common humanity so palpably real, the Buddha’s teachings challenge us to “share our meal” with others no matter where they may be living, no matter what their nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religion might be. Since chronic malnutrition is the cause of unthinkable misery, we cannot remain complacent when so many go hungry every day.
We must express compassion in action by giving others the gift of food and offering them the chance to live with dignity, to feed themselves and their families. By putting our hearts and hands together, we can turn this world into a Buddha-realm marked by justice, equity, and opportunity for all.
(Most of the factual data about global hunger in this article has been gathered from the website of the World Food Program, http://www.wfp.org/english.)
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