Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A "Hunger Banquet"

Last evening, I had the chance to speak at an Oxfam "Hunger Banquet" at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  About 75 students were in attendance.

If you have never attended a hunger banquet, the group is divided randomly upon arrival.  15% of the group represent the world's rich - last night they were seated at a round table with a table cloth, decorations, and real china and silver.  35% of the group represents the middle income people of the world - I was in this group last night and we were seated at plain tables, no decorations and just paper goods.  The remaining 50% of the people represent the world's poor - last night they were seated on the floor.

Not only is the seating different, the food is different.  The "wealthy" got a full three course meal - salad, chicken parmesan with side dishes, and cupcakes for dessert.  Our middle income group received rice and beans with apples for dessert, iced tea to drink.  The poor group received plain white rice and water to drink.

I saw some interesting sharing going on last night and some people declining to accept the charity of others.  But the most interesting thing I saw was two students at the "wealthy" table bring their entire untouched plates of food to two people at one of the "middle" tables.  You might have expected at that point that the recipients would have divided up this abundance of food with their table mates, but as I watched, they each ate the whole, generous plate of food!  Isn't human nature interesting?

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