I pop popcorn… for squirrels… sometimes. I also save bread pieces, crumbled cookies, and other ‘delicacies’ to give them. You see, I have a squirrel feeder attached to a tree behind our house, and I just happen to like feeding the squirrels. Most people feed birds, and get annoyed when squirrels invade their bird feeders, but I have eliminated that frustrating problem by just feeding the squirrels. Birds are okay, but squirrels are cuter, in my estimation, and, hey, don’t they have to eat, too? I made the feeder, for free, out of a plastic shoe box I found in our cellar, and, ingeniously, or maybe ingeniously if you’re a sixth grader, figured out a way to use the shoe box top as a sort of roof or shelter for the squirrels as they stop to feast on whatever form of carbohydrate I have recently found to fill the feeder. I just used my power screw driver to secure the feeder to the tree, although I will now probably be arrested for torturing the tree. I don’t care.
My three word question, “Why don’t we?” that I wrote as the title of this column, is incomplete without three more words, which are these: “feed the people?” I’m serious about this question, although I know that there have been heroic efforts throughout the history of our great country, to do just that, to feed the people. America is the most giving nation on the earth, with efforts to solve many huge humanitarian problems here, and around the globe. Still, we still don’t feed all of the hungry people, do we? My question stands: Why don’t we? I’m serious. Why don’t we?
If you notice, my question is not “Why can’t we?” I just don’t believe that the notion that we can’t feed the people is true at all. I do remember, years ago, seeing an editorial cartoon in the paper, showing the earth just jammed with people, with arms and legs sticking out everywhere, with many of those pen and ink people actually falling off the planet, as young birds fall out of their nest, simply for lack of room. But, (reality check here,) that was just a crudely-drawn editorial cartoon… although it is surprising how long that intentionally-misleading image has remained in my mind. In reality, (I love reality when it supports my view) the image presented and the idea promoted by that cartoon are not reality, at all. (Besides, you can’t fall off a planet.)
You see, the fact is that earth is a lot bigger than we seem to think. In our age of instant communication with nearly every spot on the globe, we seem to have swallowed the old notion of it being ‘a small world.’ Truthfully, it is anything but. If you don’t believe me, try walking the globally-miniscule distance from your Vermont home to the coast of Maine, or even to the New Hampshire boarder. Did you know that, and I’m not suggesting that we try physically proving this, every person alive today could fit in the state of Texas, with each individual man, woman, child and infant having 1,000 square feet of living space? It’s true. If you don’t believe me have your ten-year-old take out his iPhone, research and compute the number of square feet in Texas, and divide that number by six billion, which is the approximate number of people on earth. It seems like we could find room in our other 49 states, not to mention the other 195 countries in the world, to grow enough food to feed us. My point is that there is plenty of room here, plenty of clean water for everybody, and plenty of fresh oxygen for a population much larger than what the world holds today.
Speaking of your ten-year-old’s iPhone, do you remember hearing, over the years, the following cliched statement?: “If we can put a man on the moon… (then whatever the person’s ‘why can’t’ question is filled in here.)” Well, the truth is, I think we can do most things if we can put a man on the moon, which we did, over 42 years ago. In fact, we put 12 American astronauts on the moon, and a total of 27 Americans have orbited the moon and returned safely to earth. Every single aspect of technology has advanced a thousand-fold or more since those days. In fact, my late hero Neil Armstrong once confirmed in an interview that that iPhone in your pocket has, literally, 50,000 times the computing power as the seventy pound computer on the lunar module, which was used to navigate to the surface of the moon. My point follows.
Truthfully, with the “thinking power” we have today, the question is not ‘Why can’t we?’ but ‘Why don’t we?’ stop world hunger. The answer is nearly as simple as the question. People on earth are only in hunger because of selfish, inhumane governments that refuse to feed their people, because of personal greed. Still, even with this situation, the problem can’t be that hard to solve. This is not exactly the Apollo moon program, after all, which was accomplished, as I inferred, with 1960’s technology. With all of our knowledge and lightning-speed, mega-computing power today, we simply cannot be so stupid as to HAVE to let even one human being starve to death. If we really are that dumb, then let’s ask our computers, or our kids and grandkids with their computers, to figure out the answer for us, long before we greedily design one more new phone, car, or video game.
So, come on, kids. Push your parents out of the way, and SOLVE this. If the problem is greedy world leaders, and we can’t get rid of their greed, then the simplest thing would be to find a way to make the whole thing profitable for them. Maybe it could be a kind of ‘pay it forward’ plan. I don’t know, but I do know that one of you ten-year-old’s can certainly do it.
I feed the squirrels because I want to, and because I can. We need to figure out a way to feed humanity, for the same reasons. To use another cliched term that Neil Armstrong would have agreed with, it’s not rocket science.
“George’s World,” a new 740 page collection of George’s columns from The World, is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and your favorite bookstore. “The Smoke And Mirrors Effect,” George’s first novel, can be seen at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Happy Reading!