On Monday October 18th I attended the Global Oneness Banquet. The event begun with video presentations to highlight the message that we are all united through existence. The name “Global Oneness” projects a message of unity among all people just as it says. The banquet’s goal was simply to promote awareness as a means to provoke action. The audience was supplied with shocking statistics which all pointed to the same idea, that a small portion of the world claims the rights to what a majority of the world produces. This reiterates the reality of our global inequality of wealth, food, and other resources. Such disproportionate discrepancies should not go unnoticed. To add validity to this point, CCSJ and the Global Oneness movement sought to personalize day-to-day injustices by putting a face to our world’s dissemblance. They shared real stories about real people who live bitter realities working to survive. To inspire change, the banquet introduced people moved to action through such projects as Oxfam and Save-a-Cafe. The success of the even however worked through the interactive experience of the meal and reflection.
I had little information as to how the event would go, with few preconceived notions in mind going into the banquet. I understood the event would be speaking to the topic of hunger, and felt it ironic to hold a banquet in honor of such an issue. However upon entering I quickly realized my error in judgement as the participants were divided into three social classes, encompassing all means of living including the high, middle, and low income groups. Astonished and a bit unsettled, I found myself sitting with a select few at an eloquently set table, highlighted with candles, being immediately asked by a server if I would like more water or any other beverage. Speechless, looking around at the rest of the of guests, it was easy to differentiate between the the other two classes, with middle income seated only in chairs, and the low income left with nothing but a meager spot on the floor. I could not help but feel the glaring eyes of the rest of the population looking up and in on myself and the few other privileged citizens. I found it funny to feel such animosity coming from the “represented impoverished” who in less than two hours would be returning to their spoiled living arrangements at one of the best universities in the nation. We were able to physically experience the imbalances of wealth and resources in our world through the meal exercise. My high income group was served a multiple course meal, while the middle income group fed themselves from a buffet, and the low income group was left to water and rice. Through this exercise, the harsh realities of today’s resource inequalities came to life, and the tension could be felt from all branches of existence. The high income citizens were served first, and the rest watched, and then followed. Personally I felt extremely uncomfortable and even hesitant to eat, with the knowledge that those around me would be experiencing such a vast imbalance in privilege. Like most Americans, my stomach was still grumbling even though I had already consumed two meals previously in the day, and i realized the message had truly set in. We must embrace and be thankful our own existence, and find a way to benefit the well being of others, so that they too may live in the same light. The goal was to then take our knowledge and find a proper channel top promote change and giving life to the theme Global Oneness.
I found this even to be more than relevant, keeping consistent with our goals of service learning. It made me immediately proud of the work I have done with the C.A.R.E.S. program on York Road to collect and allot food to those less fortunate than myself. Not only am I taking an active stance and making a difference in the lives of others, but I am benefitting with a feeling of self worth.