Our Purple Toenails

Purple has always been my favorite color. I love to wear it, surround myself with it, and integrate it into as much of my life as possible. It makes me feel happy, calm, and grounded.

I sometimes paint my nails purple, most frequently my toenails. About two decades ago I was visiting my grandmother, my toenails adorned with a lovely purple hue. As I sat on her fluffy sofa, as others watched television, I read a magazine. It was in that magazine that I saw a photograph of a child, dying of mal- and under-nutrition, who also had purple toenails. I was stricken by the disparity between me, a privileged American who can afford the luxury of painting my nails, and the nearly 25,000 people who die of hunger, either directly or indirectly, every single day. To this day I am unable to wear purple nail polish without being reminded of the suffering of millions of people around the world, and the political and economic injustices that create these unthinkable conditions.

I felt, and still feel overwhelmed, by the many inequities in our world. But even though it may seem impossible to provoke change, every little thing we do to make a difference helps. Our vote matters. Our consumer choices matter. Our contributions, financial or otherwise, to charitable and social justice causes matter. My privilege, however small it may sometimes seem in relation to others, makes it impossible for me to give up. Not just because it would be unethical and unfair, but because giving up would only serve to reinforce that divisive privilege. And that is simply not good enough for me.

The first step is to educate ourselves. If you would like to learn more about global hunger, the following website offer excellent resources:
Mercy Corps
U.N. World Food Programme
Stop Hunger Now
Freedom from Hunger
The Hunger Project

The following websites have information about domestic hunger in the United States:
Feeding America
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Research and Action Center

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