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Social networking. Social immersion. Social personalities.
Funny how a picture of a starving child in Africa can be sent around the entire world in the span of a few seconds, and how that same picture will be accompanied by monumental amounts of outrage and calls to arms to stop hunger. Hell, it might even get its own hashtag if it’s lucky. People will change their profile pics to the slogan for stopping world hunger. Groups on Facebook will pop up to discuss the issue. There will probably be donation bins set up and money raised to buy food for this anonymous child. Anonymous donations for an anonymous child. Anonymous donations for an anonymous picture of an anonymous child, taken seventeen years ago.
A child who died seventeen years ago from hunger. A child who waited and waited for days to be fed, feeling his belly begin to swell with gases and bile, while his arms became twigs, his legs toothpicks, his tongue a dry scrap of boot leather. He probably heard of some convoy miles and miles away. A convoy that had food and water—drinkable, clean water- and he probably felt hope. That three-year old boy, born into a world without food. A dry, impoverished world with parents that were dead or dying. A child that just wants food to eat. He doesn’t want toys, or apps, or the latest i device. He doesn’t even have a scrap of clothing to cover himself from the scalding heat.
All he wants is to eat. That would make him happy.
So, hearing about this convoy of hope, this effort by humanitarians to help the world by feeding cities and people with already existent food and water supplies. Hell, they even have money and a few luxuries, the boons of being paid by advertising companies to look poor and helpless. They pay you even more if the babies are crying, so the parents pinch the babies to bring on tears. Yeah, those tears will turn the hearts of everyone who views this advertisement. Big wet raindrops falling from the eyes of a small African baby in slow motion while a country song plays in the background.
Meanwhile, the starving, thirsty boy—the one whose parents are dead or dying, whose tongue tastes like sand, and whose stomach hasn’t known what it’s like to digest anything other than grass in months, that boy- is crawling through the dirt to find this convoy. This food truck. This mobile hope and salvation that the gracious anonymous people of whatever blessed country raised the impersonal money to send miles from the villages that need it the most. This bastion of nutrition and water, run by the teenagers of some church that were told they are making a difference in the kingdom of God by giving to those who don’t truly need it.
His head wobbled on top of his bony shoulders, his bent paperclip neck barely able to support the weight anymore. His eyes are milky and in a perpetual stare, the skin of his eyelids too parched to cover his exposed pupils properly. This little three-year old boy walks. He hopes and he walks. He doesn’t know better. He’s only three after all. He only knows how to say a handful of words. He still believes in magic and hope. He still believes that people want to help him, that they will make a personal effort and appearance to help him get food to eat. He still believes that people are good and care.
He doesn’t know.
He doesn’t know about apps. About hashtags. About iPhones, about Androids, about credit cards, and lattes, and Memorial Day sales, and wars fought for resources in the name of freedom, and political squabbles, and pedicures, and downloading. He doesn’t know that people would rather Tweet about him; make a hashtag about him; post a motivational meme to make someone feel guilty for a few seconds. He doesn’t know that people really don’t care. He doesn’t know that people are too busy improving their credit to help him; that saving up for a tattoo to express individualism is more important than his eating real food; that upgrading to a luxury sedan is a higher priority than him eating week old bread.
His head wobbled on top of his bony shoulders, his bent paperclip neck barely able to support the weight anymore.
His mouth would have watered when he thought of week old bread, but he hadn’t had enough water to drink. He was drying out. His muscles were being cooked by the sun, his skin broiled by the heat. A mile ago, he slumped to his hands and knees. His three-year old, emaciated limbs couldn’t support him anymore, but he wanted to eat. So he continued on, dragging his heavy head through the dirt and motor oil and animal shit to get to that convoy. That truck. That beacon of hope.
That truck full of food and water.
That truck that would feed him and give him clean cool water to drink.
That truck that would fulfill the wish of a starving three-year old boy.
That truck that left two days ago.
That truck that handed out all the food and water it had brought with it to the small farming community; that community of families that had always had enough food and a well full of clean cool water.
That truck that would report back to the people who sent it, telling them that their donations had made a difference in the lives of these people, telling them that giving a weeks worth of free groceries to people who didn’t need it was the Hand of God’s Grace in this world.
That truck that would make all those anonymous donors feel better about themselves and post status updates, and memes, and make new hashtags.
That was the truck the little three-year old boy crawled towards, hoping in his little flickering heart that there were people who would hold him like his dead or dying parents couldn’t do anymore, and would feed him, and water him, and clean him, and love him.
And so, that dying little boy continued crawling towards that truck, dragging his body through the dirt, vultures hopping along behind him, until his body gave out and he died.
Unloved, overlooked, and ignored.
Hoping in those that didn’t care.