Friday, January 17, 2014

SNAP, Pablo Neruda and the Justice of Eating

As I was reading the most recent headlines in the God's Politics blog (Sojourners),  one theme jumped at me right away.  The headline was very simple: The Justice of Eating.

And when I clicked on the link, I happily discovered that this was a piece written by LaVida Davis, Bread for the World's director of  grassroots organizing and capacity building, to illustrate why food stamps were essential to keep many of our neighbors from going hungry. LaVida wrote this piece in light of the de facto cuts that were enacted in November when Congress allowed funding for the economic stimulus package to expire. The situmulus included $11 billion in funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
 "Forty-nine million Americans live at risk of hunger," said LaVida. "Any policies that create additional poverty among the working poor are reprehensible. It is unacceptable for lawmakers to take vital food stamp benefits away from millions of Americans struggling to recover from the ongoing impacts of the recession." 

What I love about this piece is that it appeals not only to our intellectual understanding but also to our  artistic emotions. LaVida starts with excerpts from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's work entitled El gran mantel (The Great Tablecloth).  Read Full Post

Below is the original excerpt in Spanish, followed by the English translation that was used in the God's Politics blog.

Tener hambre es como tenazas,
es como muerden los cangrejos,
quema, quema y no tiene fuego:
el hambre es un incendio frío.
Sentémonos pronto a comer
con todos los que no han comido,
pongamos los largos maneles,
la sal en los lagos del mundo,
panaderías planetarias,
mesas con fresas en la nieve,
y un plato como la luna
en donde todos almorcemos.

Por ahora no pido más
que la justicia del almuerzo.

—Algunos versos del poema de Pablo Neruda, El gran mantel

(“… Hunger feels like pincers,
like the bite of crabs;
it burns, burns, and has no fire.
Hunger is a cold fire.
Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven't eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in the lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries,
tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself
from which we can all eat
For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating.”

—Excerpt from “The Great Tablecloth,” by Pablo Neruda

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