Are you part of the solution?

You’rdsc_0134e either part of the problem, or part of the solution.  This is a mantra I’ve said many times — to my children, my co-workers, my friends.  I have never judged others for choosing a side that may have appeared to be part of the problem; I believe to much in natural consequences and universal level-setting.  Instead, I leave that ultimate determination up to each individual, for we have to decide for ourselves if we are making things better or worse.

The problem now is that our nation is more openly divided than ever thanks to our most recent presidential election.  The truth is, our country was divided before, but this electoral season brought people’s hate and fear into clear focus and is, quite frankly, scary! I believe that we all have an opportunity right now – an opportunity to be a part of the solution. More than ever in recent history, we are being called to stand up for what we believe in, and I do believe that more people will stand up for acceptance, inclusion and love than for the opposite. But hypothesizing and dialoguing with our friends over coffee and dinner about what we believe in is no longer enough. We have all been given a call to action.

But what will set us up for success?  We have to embrace our passion and our call to action with love for what we believe in, not hate or animosity or fear for what others speak about or embrace.  You see, the minute you join a march because you hate a policy, or write a blog because you are afraid not to, you have become a part of the very “problem” you seek to remedy.  When you spew negative comments about anyone or anything, you first fill yourself with that negative vibration. At that moment you are no longer responding to the world with love and compassion, but with hate, fear and the very things your heart wants you to passionately and compassionately rise up against.

I’m not suggesting you need to love people who hurt others nor situations that cause pain. In today’s world, I’m not suggesting that you need to like or agree with Trump or any other leader.  What I am suggesting, is that you turn your focus away from being angry, hurt, scared or frustrated, and instead turn your focus to what you want to uphold.  Turn your focus and all of your heart energy, passion and desire to making the world a better place — to being a part of the solution.   We say, “Love Trumps Hate,” but no longer do we live in a world where we can say one thing and do another. Love does trump hate, we need to be clear that we are speaking, acting and responding from love. This is what it means to BE THE CHANGE.  Be love!  Be grace! Be compassion!  And blast the hell out of hatred and fear  with that energy!

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This Mom SNAPped

This past week my college daughter participated in the SNAP Challenge for her Civil Justice class.  (Yohungry-child-1u can read about her journey here.)

As her mom, I had mixed emotions.  I was so proud of her for wanting to understand one of our country’s biggest challenges — food insecurity.  However, Maggie is hyperglycemic – to the point that even in her adult life I carry snacks for her when we are together. She can devolve from healthy and vibrant to pale, weak and confused in a matter of minutes.  She’s also battling chronic lyme disease; this means she takes an enormous number of drugs that need to be taken with food, there is a special diet she must follow, and deviations from protocol are potentially disastrous to her long term health.  I strongly protested her participation in the challenge – knowing she would respond with the requisite, “yes mom” and plow forward.

Why participate?  To better understand what we, as a society, put vulnerable populations through when they are at their lowest point.  I’m not arguing whether social programs need an overhaul nor am I willing to debate whether or not the 45.4 million Americans on SNAP could change their stars.  Given that most of these recipients are children, I am appalled at how cavalier we can sometimes be in our “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.

My daughter was challenged to blog about her experience every day, and it caused me to think about the parental frame of mind when participating in SNAP or other food assistance programs. What is it like for parents who love their children as much as you and I, but are humbly sending their child(ren) to school and/or bed hungry?  I’ve worried about Maggie all week!  I had to stop reading her daily blog posts after she shared an experience of nearly fainting at a formal event; I was sick to my stomach.  You see, last April I slept for four nights in a chair by her hospital bedside because of pancreatitis activated by her lyme disease.  A major digestive organ in her body is compromised — and SNAP, even for a week, was a potential detonator for her.  Daily, I waited for that call.  Daily, I knew she was not herself.  Daily, I knew she was causing hidden damage to her body.

I began to wonder how moms and dads who participate in SNAP cope with these same or similar concerns?  I knew this would be over in a week.  I prayed, I distracted myself from thinking about it — I had the blessing of knowing this experiment was temporary AND could rest in the comfort of knowing I provide a meal plan and lifestyle that would allow my daughter to recover.  I also knew that my job would allow me, in the worst scenario, to take time to nurse her back to health should that be necessary, without fear of missing a mortgage payment or losing my job.  Not only do families on SNAP have to deal with childhood illnesses that food could heal or help, but many more illnesses are created by the limited food choices SNAP affords.

This week my heart was with the scores of moms and dads who don’t have the luxury of providing 3 square meals a day, much less providing snacks for their kids. Parents who have to bypass the fresh fruits and veggies in favor of high protein (like beans) or high carb foods. Parents who have to hear from educators that their children are underperforming (because they are hungry or malnourished) or have to worry that their child may never be well because their little body is in a constant state of crisis.

Those of us who are able, take comfort in donating canned goods and peanut butter to food pantries.  But having volunteered in these facilities, it always broke my heart that I couldn’t offer the clients something fresh or even more — a balanced and nutritious selection of foods.  Don’t get me wrong.  That can of peaches — way better than nothing.  That jar of peanut butter — life saving for someone.  But my SNAP challenge, to be a part of the solution that brings healthy food to the communities and food deserts where it’s most needed. I wish that no child be hungry, and that no parent have to carry the burden of knowing their child is ill-nourished.


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