I had indicated I’d talk about abiding in Christ today. However, a friend sent me an email about last night’s post that I wanted to tell you about first, and will (hopefully) address abiding tomorrow.
I talked yesterday about how famine typically follows wars, but it turns out that it also can cause them. A friend sent me an article addressing the current unrest in the Middle East and how food and economic uncertainty may be among the primary motivators for the series of rebellions.
Unfortunately, to see the whole article he sent me, you need to subscribe to World Politics Review, but I’ll paste the most relevant sections from Frida Ghitis’ column dated February 10, 2011 below.
"Among the forces propelling the revolt is one that has received little attention: the worldwide spiraling of food prices. Oppression is more easily endured when it comes with prosperity; when it is accompanied instead by worsening poverty and hunger, the seeds of discontent start sprouting. When anger and frustration reach the bursting point, it overpowers the fear of confronting a repressive regime's brutality."
My friend continues:
To illustrate this point, consider that, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization numbers, the price per ton of wheat in Egypt increased 262% between 2003 and 2008. Furthermore, wheat prices in the last year were further pressured by floods in Australia's wheat growing region, wild fires in Russia's wheat growing region, increasing demand from India and China, and Western nations' dalliance with biofuels, which takes productive land off the global food market. When one can't afford to eat and feels the pangs of hunger more often, it is understandable how the motivation for change increases.
Indeed, food scarcity and hunger can be a symbol of one's need for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirt. Our Lord Himself has said "Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35).
Ghitis also comments that much has been made of the role of social media in these uprisings, but she posits that social media merely aided in keeping things going and organized, but were not the true causes of it—concerns about food were the spark, social media the wind to fan the flames.
She also states that the countries that have had little or no revolt are those where the citizenry are more prosperous or where the government has taken steps to control food prices and availability or similar preemptive action.
Where does this take yesterday’s end times thoughts? Not entirely sure. It certainly increases the evidence of famine being a factor in current global stress, but I’m hesitant to say it is more than another data point.
It does, on a more practical level, illustrate an opportunity to serve others through pushing for wiser usage and distribution of foodstocks. Feeding the hungry doesn’t just happen in the soup kitchens and food pantries. It is also in being informed on food policy in your local, state and national governments, and contacting officials to educate them about it, because they have so many issues, it can be difficult to see hidden relationships that tie diverse issues together. There are also ministries that focus on food distribution like World Vision, Compassion International and others, with whom we can partner and from whom can learn more.