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Monday, July 11, 2005

Transformation delayed

It's a little past four or five on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I am lying on a pew in the sanctuary, drifting in and out of sleep. It has been over twenty-four hours since I last ate, but I am not hungry, just tired. In a few short hours the 30 Hour Famine will be over, and those of us who participated in this self-imposed "famine" will break fast at a greasy-spoon eatery in Chinatown.

I had agreed to this abstination from food to make a more tangible connection with those for whom hunger is a constant reminder of the inbalance of this world. In a naive way, I had hoped that these brief 30 hours would lead to some miraculous personal transformation, a buildup of emotions for the plight of those in the Third World, culminating in a moment of catharsis, when overcome with hunger I decide to pour out my soul and devote my life (or some reasonable part of it) to do something about the "problem".

But as I lie on the pew, I come to the realization that no matter how hard we try to simulate the "Third World Experience", the end product will still be a poor imitation, a sanitized, Disneyland sketch of the real thing because there is no substitute for the real thing. As I drift back into an uneasy sleep, I ask myself if I would be willing to go to Africa and live there for a few years. I can't say with honest sincerity that I would. At this realization, I want to cry for the condition of my soul. I feel tears welling up, but before they get a chance to see the afternoon light, I am asleep. Next year will be different.



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