I have never really known true hunger. Sure, there was the time that I was flying back to Toledo from Dallas after losing my wallet, and I had to con my way into some free food during a two-hour layover in Atlanta (I told the food court people that an employee mistakenly threw away my tray).
And as a child growing up in a blue collar neighborhood of Detroit during the 1960s and 1970s, I knew the meaning of being poorer than some of my acquaintances, and my brownbag lunches usually featured peanut butter or baloney instead of the fancier food some of my classmates brought in their shiny cartoon character lunchboxes.
So it is with some bewilderment and a lack of personal familiarity with malnourishment and starvation that I continue read of the phenomenon of food riots in places like Somalia, Haiti, Côte d'Ivoire, and Myanmar. Moreover, I have never lived in a time of such widespread fear and hunger around the planet, and the idea of mass starvation - even in nations with advanced infrastructure - is frightening to me.
I know that we are in for tough times when my wife came home with a 20-pound bag of rice the other day. She is sunny by nature, and usually takes an optimistic view of life, but media reports of escalating food prices and global grain shortages have even caused this sober-minded woman to stock up on basic foodstuffs.
And yes: I know that any fear-based hoarding by people like me contributes to global shortages and price increases, and that if enough people like me stock 100 pounds of rice and flour in their pantries, chances are that global hunger will only increase.
So be it.
I cannot save every person on the planet, but I sure as hell do not want to see my family starve. These are strange times, and I simply do not wish to pretend that we are not living in a time of significant scarcity.