Some people watch news about starving people in Africa and may think to themselves, “Poor them. They are days away from starvation. Look at how they depend on others just to feed themselves.”
That last thought is rather tricky. In many places in Africa, they are dependent on others bringing them food. Many NGOs, including large ones like UNICEF are the only entities keeping some medium to large populations alive. People, sometimes living on the opposite end of the globe, give money, either directly through charitable giving or indirectly by paying taxes and then having their tax dollars turned into aid sustain these populations to the extent that if the money dried up and the food stopped coming in, these populations would be devastated.
These people are usually given pre-processed food stuffs. Not seeds, not knowhow, but sacks of flour, rice, beans, etc. This drives home the point that if the money goes away, the food goes away and people will starve.
My contention in this piece is, there is no difference between the people surviving on aid and the people supplying the aid in one crucial aspect, self sustainability. Neither population is truly sustainable if left to their own devices. Just as the needy population would be devastated if the aid dried up, the rich populations would be just as devastated if their chain of food were interrupted. Neither groups have the knowhow to sustain themselves. I must admit, I am not sure if I could keep my family alive if I could not go to the local supermarket or restaurant for nourishment.
They are both forms of dependence. The needy are given food thus taking away any incentive to learn how to cultivate food for themselves while the rich cannot be bothered with such activities due to their busy schedules. Both are slaves to convenience albeit in different ways. One group’s chains and shackles are free while the other group pays for theirs.
One just needs to look at the hurricane that hit New York City in 2013. The food supply chain was interrupted due to flooding and New York was almost out of food in three days. People were going into to neighboring states New Jersey and Connecticut looking for food. Imagine if these states did not exist and there was nothing but wilderness until the Pacific Ocean. There would have been massive deaths due to starvation.
It is easy to take for granted how easy our lives are. But it is also easy to take for granted how delicate the balance truly is. We are one natural disaster, one real oil crisis, one cosmic event such as a communications destroying solar flare, etc. away from living as if we were in the Stone Ages. Are you prepared in such an event? I know I am not but it may be prudent to be at least slightly prepared. A doomsday basement filled with rations, arms and ammunition and stashed of gold may not be in order but certainly a little basic knowledge of farming, plants and basic survival might go a long way.