Just two weeks ago I shared my past failure at fasting and my determination not to fast again unless I had a purpose. Naturally a few days ago I was presented with an opportunity to fast for a purpose and in a bite-sized, once a week format (isn't that pun-ilicious). The purpose of this fast is to set aside at least one meal a week during the month of April, for fasting, prayer and action regarding the budget that congress is considering. Many of the proposed budget cuts affect the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us. I realize we need to address the deficit. These are difficult times. But considering the size of the overall budget, cutting these programs seems to be the equivalent of an individual household trying to get itself out of debt by ceasing to put change in the Salvation Army kettles at Christmas time.
I feel a bit conflicted about undertaking this fast. I spent a good bit of time recently seething about the injustice of environmentalists and animal rights activists passing judgment on farmers and ranchers. Such activists often know little about the ins and outs of farming. It seems so unfair for some to sit in judgment from afar eating their hamburger or veggie burger with clean hands while those of us engaged in this industry make difficult and sometimes heartbreaking decisions trying to balance compassion, environmentalism, and economics.
So, how can I judge politicians when I know so little about politics? How can I voice an opinion when I haven't seen the proposed budget, wouldn't understand it if I did, and know there is no such thing as unbiased news in this world?
For one, I can look to the opinions of those who are engaged in feeding the hungry. They would be experts on part of the issue. Some well respected groups are listed as standing up against the proposed budget cuts.
Ultimately, however, I decided that I will attempt to refrain from passing judgment on the politicians and the budget. I will focus my fasting, prayer, and action on insuring that those who are making the decisions are aware that many of us care deeply about the poor and believe that care of the most vulnerable should be among the highest priorities of this nation. Beyond that I will pray and trust in God to work mysterious wonders so that all of God's children will be treated with justice and compassion here and throughout the world.
I am trying it again, the fasting thing. But this time with purpose and in smaller, easier to digest (I love puns) pieces. If you wonder "What is she talking about?" check out http://hungerfast.org which explains the who's, why's, and how's. There are many ways a person could participate. For example, it is suggested that we try to eat on $2 a day like billions of people around the world are forced to do. I tried this out as a first step when I ate at a fast-food restaurant yesterday. My rumbling tummy the rest of the day gave me plenty of opportunity to think about those who are hungry. However, figuring this out when eating at home would involve way too much math (one cup of flour that's about one twentieth of a bag, 20 goes into $3 divided by 4 people in my family....AHHHH!). So, I am sticking with the once a week fast which was suggested to me in an email from Sojourners (www.sojo.net.)
Whether you like this idea or think I am nuts, you are now forewarned: you may want to steer clear of me on Mondays for the next month. Being hungry makes me cranky.