Monday, October 18, 2010

Global Oneness Banquet

This evening I attended the Global Oneness Banquet. The purpose for the banquet was to spread awareness of the prevalence of poverty in the world today. The more people that know about the problem, the more people that can help. The banquet personalized the problem by giving everyone a person to identify with. The message was strong and clear that the few dominate the many. Roughly half the people on Earth are living below the poverty level. However, the wealthy minority has power over everything. It is unsettling to think about this gross imbalance and how it affects everyone.

I walked to the banquet with no predispositions as to what I would learn or gain from the presentation. As I entered, I picked up a card with my name on it from a table outside the room. The backside of the card had an alternative identity and income. My alter ego was Claude, a high-income head of the Ministry of Finance in Botswana. I stepped into the room and I became confused when I only saw three tables set for dinner and about 30 seats in three rows separated from them. As people gathered in, a woman told the high-income people to have a seat at the elegant candle-lit tables. The middle-income people were to sit in the chairs provided and the low-income people had to find a spot on the floor. Immediately, there was a sense of separation between the three classes. We came into the room as one large group, but now we look at each other as if strangers set apart into our own places. As the select few and I ate a three course meal, the middle class lined up for a buffet table of rice and beans. Meanwhile the poor could only have water and rice. I couldn’t help but feel guilty at my luck of fate when I watched my friends eating meager meals. I realized that this same logic applies to the fate of impoverished people. I was born into a high-income family by chance. Similarly, people below the poverty level were born into their low-income class. They had no control over who their parents were and consequently how they were raised.

The Global Oneness Banquet opened my eyes to the important issue of poverty in the world today. It showed me that we are all one people, all indigenous to the planet Earth. We are all facing the same problems and difficulties across the world in various shapes and forms. This reminded me of “Common Ground” by Judith Cofer. In the poem, the speaker says how we are all connected by various reasons. Ultimately, we are reminded of our mortality when she tells us our common ground is death. This made me wonder: Why do we think we are so different from one another? The barriers that separate us mostly have to do with money. These things that divide are so easy to take down but we are resistant to. This idea correlates with the “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. The speaker constantly tries to take down the wall separating him from his neighbor. His old neighbor is hung up on tradition and opposes the destruction of the wall. Instead of being content disconnected to others, we should give an effort to bring down those barriers.

The Global Oneness Banquet was an informative and enlightening experience that forced me to view the world from a different perspective. It stressed the importance of spreading awareness of poverty and other crises in the world today. It encouraged me to take an active part in doing whatever I can to help the community.

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