Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let 'em eat dog food

By Paul Dion, STL

On one Sunday when we heard the story of the multiplication of the loaves according to John, (6; 1 – 15) and the feeding of the large crowd by the prophet Elisha (2 Kgs 4:42-44), my parish priest, Fr. Romy, addressed world hunger and the ways that it touches all of us.

Early in his address to the congregation he said, “That horrible reality of hunger is a human tragedy. It is a sin against life.” (Italics mine) That means that it is a human tragedy not just for those who are hungry and dying, but for all of us who are implicated in their misery.

I am of the opinion that it is a sin against life that has “corporate” dimensions. We all participate in it. We all have a share in the death of the 40 to 60 million people who succumb to the ravages of hunger every year. Father Romy didn’t give any examples of how we participate in the corporate sin against life, but I am not shy, so I’m going to give it a try.

I know some people who brag about the fact that they never eat “leftovers.” So, they cook for four or five, even if they are but two in the house. The food that is left behind is carefully wrapped or placed in Tupperware containers and stored in the refrigerator until it either takes up too much space, becomes inedible or I and my wife “rescue” it and get to save $50.00
or more for the month.

Want to know what happens when we are not there to claim this food? It gets fed to the feral cats who roam the inner city neighborhood where these people live. Now, the last time I gave this any thought, I thought that feral cats who didn’t get to kill something for dinner, including one another, died of hunger.

People who feed them sin against human life because they spend too much for too much food that they have no intention of eating and they don’t think of the hungry people that they could help by being more frugal. And they sure don’t think of me. I can and will eat anything, including your leftovers. But then again, I’m not starving, so I guess I don’t count.

Yes, I do tell them that what they are doing is immoral. They think I'm crazy. I know I am, but I thank God that I am not insane.

I’m sure that I don’t have to mention the amount of food that is wasted in the restaurant industry. We all know the restaurants that give the most generous portions for the price. Two or three of us go there, get our money’s worth, so we say, and then send 35% to the disposal unit because our eyes were bigger than our stomach. My wife and I have discovered that any restaurant with a “king sized” portion policy will also serve that same portion with two plates so that none will go to waste. Think about it.

I also want to say that the amount of dog and cat food that we buy here in the United States could feed 40 to 60 million people a year. Not a person among them would complain. How many of these starving people can get a four ounce meal of tuna, corn meal, ground bone protein twice per day? How many of them can get a six ounce portion of beef, beef parts, meal, ground bone protein and other stuff twice per day?

None. If they could, they would not die, they would thrive. Yet, we feed that to our dogs and cats! If that is not a corporate sin against humanity, nothing is.

I don’t want to hear that these processed foods are not edible by humans. Oh!?! Do they contain chicken feet? Locusts? Beetles? Larvae? Pigs’ ears? Chicken combs? Bulls’ testicles? Blood? Not that I could see on the ingredient list. Yet, even if they are, these are all food items in many third world countries. I did see that they had a lot of fat content (good for silky fur), lots of salt (hmmm, gotta cut that, but that’s easy), animal parts (Fried intestines anybody? Go to El Rodeo Restaurant in La Mesa, Tijuana, Baja California). Have we forgotten that human beings are omnivorous?

One last comment. We humans, God’s greatest creation, are the only animals who can manage our food supply, no matter how complex we make it. We can even transport food across the planet to those who need it. Yet, we let our fellow human beings die because we do not have the conscience to keep them alive, no matter how many technological advances we have made
to process food so that it lasts for a long time.

What if we were cows? We would get fed, even just to fatten us up for future value. Do you know how much alfalfa it takes to make a 1,500 pound cow? How about the slop that it takes to make a 1,000 pound hog? I won’t bore you with the same question for sheep, goats, ostriches, horses, etc.

Somewhere toward the end of the book of Job, Yaweh asks Job, “did you ever ask yourself why the horse eats only grass and is swifter and stronger than you?”

That is a good question, but it doesn’t mean anything to us because God endowed us with a logical brain and freedom which the horse does not have.

The real question is, why don’t we use this endowment for our common good? My follow-up question is, why do we use this endowment to develop food to make dogs and cats fatter and prettier and “happier” while 40 to 60 million of our fellow human beings are dying of hunger?

Father Romy asked us to try to do something about the hunger problem. He mentioned that St. Christopher has a food bank to which we can contribute. I say, that’s the least we can do.

I also say, send your dog or cat to the farm and buy food for the hungry people of Moreno Valley instead. To those of you who own Wall Street Stock, I say divest yourself of the companies who process pet food and buy something that is more in the interest of mankind. You don’t want to divest yourself of your Ralston Purina stock? Go to the next shareholders meeting and make a plea to get the company to process 20% of its canned food so that it will be healthful for people who need a quick, compact meal to keep themselves alive. Same basic ingredients, less chemicals.

So, you don’t want to get rid of your pet? I’ll bet you know someone, or a family who could use a nice meal once a week. Who knows how much life you could add to that person or that family by cooking something for them?

This is a hard question. It goes to the emotions of millions of people. Emotions or not, something has to be done about the problem of human hunger, and I think that what I have said above is a part of the solution.

Having said that, I now know that there will be a hoard of you who will cry for your dog's dying and will most certainly not cry at my funeral.

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Monday, September 20, 2010


"I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go."                      

Imagine being led around by these two fine specimens of human nature! In a previous post I described my bout with a ferocious attack of the gout and the consequences that it brought to my life.  By doing that, I left out the story of my two sons. They deserve more recognition than was present in the previous writing.
I have chosen the above photos because I have decided that they will lighten the tone of the matter. I have already told them that when a father finds himself being coddled by his children, there are no words in the language powerful enough to express the emotion of the moment. It is a moment captured well by the words that Jesus addressed to Peter just before leaving earth for heaven.
I was in that situation.  They put me in a car and drove me to the hospital.  There they sat, missing work, keeping watch over the shadow of the man they knew as their father.  In the very few semi-lucid moments that I had over the first three days of my confinement, we tried to communicate as usual, but it was impossible.  They even found it necessary to apologize to the hospital staff that had to endure my abuse.  Yes, they did that, and more, because they saw their father in a light that they never thought would ever present itself to them.  I still remember some of the words they used during those moments.  When I think of them, I smile and wonder how God could have blessed me so deeply and richly with two magnificent angels, blood of my blood, hearts of my heart, full of His Grace.

These guys are saints.  I thank God for showing me the precious depths of their souls before I die.  When I do die, remember what I have just said.  Know that I died in the presence of saints on earth, and do not dare to cry at my funeral.