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Have you ever felt ashamed to be well fed and clothed, a roof over your head and money to spend on things you like while there exist those who are hungry, unclothed and/or living exposed to the elements? Have you ever wondered what you have done to deserve this luck, of being born into a household which didn’t have to worry where the next meal comes from? Those of you who belong to one or other of the religions have easy answers to such questions. Some believe it is all karma, those who did not lead a good life in their previous birth are being punished in this one. There are others whose belief states that a life of trials and tribulations on earth means when they die they will be rewarded in heaven with everything they have ever wanted.

I am sure there are more scenarios of the kind outlined in the different religious texts, very conveniently explaining away the vast differences in the way humans live. I scoff at every one of them. They are nothing but salves to soothe the guilt of living well while others around you are suffering. The truth is some of us have been lucky, others not so. To dress up that luck as the will of the divine is ingenious and useful to the manipulators. Also shameful. That’s my opinion, in case you are wondering.

No, I do not have a solution. Those who see and report a problem need not be the ones who provide the solution too unlike what some of the internet jerks believe. I only know that everyone needs to have their basic needs met. No one should have to go hungry, or have no way to protect themselves from the elements. Basic amenities should be a given wherever. We do have competent people to whom we should listen. If we put our heads together we can surely come up with a solution?

But, I am rather naïve, aren’t I? How can this be important enough? The important stuffs are fighting wars, enslaving people, bickering over which religion is the better one, whose Gods are the more powerful. Who has time to think of those like the poor woman who sat by the roadside and cried for herself and her hungry children wondering whether gathering them and jumping into the river was a better option? She told me her story, and of the day she rummaged through a dead old man’s cloth bundle, hoping to find something for her children whom she had left in the care of an old woman while weakened as she was from lack of food, went in search of work.

How can we as a society, which includes me, look in the mirror at ourselves when there are desperate ones like her? This is as much a question to myself as it is to all of you out there.

© Shail Mohan 2021