IF THE WORLD COULD RELY ON 'PLUMPY'NUT'
"Here is an important question for us to ponder: Do we know the difference between 'serendipity' and 'Divine inspiration'? Do we know what ideas might come if we were ready to receive them?"
Now, more than ever, we need to consider the significance of the development of a sweet paste called 'Plumpy'nut', with its silly-sounding name and tremendous potential to save lives, Plumpy'nut has brought into the world a new hope that counters the bleak picture described below in which individuals, groups, and nations continue to be invested in looking out for themselves. It has done this based primarily on the inspiration of one man concerned with food-relief, sitting in his kitchen.
With respect to the self-interest of nations that still prevails, as compared with the interests of humanity, the year's end brought with it a view:
- of our current indifference to the potential climatological catastrophe looming on the horizon whose forewarnings are already present, even if denied, (See: Racing Toward Climate Disaster ), and
By contrast, 'Plumpy'nut' came into the world just a few years ago and has already transformed the nature and quality of famine-relief in Africa, especially as it relates to children. To understand the real impact of Plumpy'nut, see:
This little fist-sized packet of peanut butter, chocolate, and vitamins was developed in France by Andre Briend, a nutrition expert and scientist concerned with famine-relief, who discovered after many years of labor, a new way to package vitamins and minerals in concentrated form within a high calorie peanut-chocolate based paste that would be gobbled up by starving children. According to the story, inspiration came to Briend while pondering the problem of food-relief, and seeing, serendipitously, a jar of 'Nutella' - a popular chocolate and hazelnut spread in Europe - on his kitchen table. In this way an idea was born for the development of a product that immediately began to save the lives of thousands of severely malnourished children, many of whom may have died without it.
Here is an important question for us to ponder: Do we know the difference between 'serendipity' and 'Divine inspiration'? Do we know what ideas might come if we were ready to receive them? What if there were ten thousand scientists like Andre Briend looking for solutions to a problem like this? What if there were a million - a million people with common purpose, all of whom have kitchen tables, all of whom use some kind of sweetened spread on their toast, or sandwiches, or crepes, all of whom might equally well be inspired to find solutions to the world's pressing problems?
As we look through this year's articles on hunger, disease, and malnutrition, worldwide, or just feel what we have learned about these things in the past, we may be led to believe that the problems are endless - that it would require a human change of unimagineable proportions in order to address them. Indeed, this is true. The world needs to change, and the change that is needed is massive. But what it needs to change into is a collective force that concentrates attention on issues of human significance so that the impact of collective suffering and pain can be reduced through the appearance of seemingly random yet inspired solutions to problems that have existed forever. Witness the fact - that one jar of 'Plumpy-nut' has changed the face of famine-relief in Africa.
There are many small miracles such as 'Plumpy'nut' to come if we are open to them, for Divine inspiration not only operates to heal problems on the individual level, but on the global level as well. Many 'serendipitous' discoveries would be forthcoming if the world were open to this level of inspiration, and if it were ready to pay attention to the crying needs of the many that go largely ignored by the wealthier nations, year after year, decade after decade, as these wealthy nations pursue their own ends.
The originator of Plumpy'nut was not a magician, nor a head of government, nor an entrepreneur, but a dedicated servant of life. And yet he is but one private citizen. He is not a collective force that could be brought to bear with official, legitimized purpose to address human suffering. Governments can do on a larger scale, what private citizens often cannot. They can reduce pain. They can care about human suffering. They can act in the best interests of humanity. They can create a world in which there are not those who starve when food is plentiful.
Governments can do this in principle, but do not do so in practice, because they have not yet come to understand that 'we are all in this together' - that what affects one starving child in Africa affects the rest of us directly and indirectly. For this is the nature of human ties - they exist invisibly, beyond the level of conscious experience, and are present because we, the collective body of humanity, are connected within one whole body of matter and experience, and what transpires in one part of that common body affects us all.
Do we believe this yet? Do we hold it to be true? How does one malnourished child in Niger or Sudan (or a thousand children, or a million) affect the entire world? The answer is simple - we are holding the pain of that child's consciousness in our own. We are holding the hope for that child's redemption and return to health as our own hope for redemption and return to health. These are not merely mystical assertions, though they are that, too. They are part of a conception of collective humanity that understands that it has but one consciousness and one energy-body, divided into billions of parts, and that what affects one, affects the whole.
Eventually, we will come to celebrate Plumpy'nut and those products that may emerge like it all over the world - the result of inspiration and devotion, based on a perception of the sacredness of life. As humanity becomes more open both to God and to the needs of others, there will be many more of these solutions that will come into consciousness to treat the world's longstanding conditions of poor health and endless suffering. For now, it is important that we wake up to the certainty that what affects 'you' affects 'me', and that we no longer allow ourselves to isolate ourselves in the belief that our own 'private world' is the world that we are really living in. It is but a mere shift in perspectives - on the order of a mental 'Plumpy-nut' - that would bring us to the startling conclusion that we are, and have always been, 'one'.
"He who saves a single life, saves the world."
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