On Monday, October 18, 2010 at 6:30 PM I arrived at the fourth floor programming room ready for what I thought would be a presentation on poverty around the world. What I did not expect was to be emerged into this world by the men and women operating the Global Oneness Banquet. The goal of the banquet in my opinion was to spread awareness of how extreme and real poverty is and to promote solutions that take the proper steps to combat this problem. As soon as I walked up to the fourth floor, I met a line of people trying to find their respective cards. These cards determined what kind of experience you would have for the next two hours.
As I picked up my card, the woman behind the desk of cards alerted me that I was welcome to have a seat on the floor. I walked into the banquet with a confused look as I clearly saw chairs available. As I entered, I realized what my card actually said. Well now I would like to introduce you to Lutfar. Lutfar is a low class citizen living on the coast of Bangladesh with his family. Natural disasters like floods and cyclones are unending worries for him and his family. His fellow low-income acquaintances and him make up a majority of the Earth’s population with only a small percentage living in luxury. The luxury/high-income bar starts at $12,000 per year. Yes, I remembered this number correctly.
Throughout the presentation, I was longing for Lutfar to be given the chance at promotion to the middle class. I would be lying if I said my backside wasn’t starting to ache. Dinner was soon being served and I knew what was coming next. The upper class was served a meal respective to their statuses. After the high-income individuals received their appetizers, the middle class was able to serve themselves rice and beans with the choice of lemonade or water. The process continued as the men of the low-income class were allowed to drink water and help themselves to rice. Lastly, the women were allowed to serve themselves. I found it incredible that one girl of the high-income class brought her food over to a section of the low-income class and offered her food to anyone willing to take it. I just thought about how awkward that would be not just for her, but the people she was offering it to. No one accepted the food and I immediately thought that it was not just college students who would feel embarrassed in that situation, but actual Lutfars as well.
Walking back to the west side of campus I thought of what readings my experience related to. There are different avenues to take honestly. Robert Frost’s Mending Wall talked about a relationship between two neighbors and how their wall allows them to grow as just that, “neighbors.” “Good fences make good neighbors” can definitely apply to the minority of inhabitants of the Earth who earn $12,000 or more and are inactive in their part to recognize poverty. Another way to look at it is that you should be thankful for what you have. Zora Neale Hurston’s The Gilded 6-Bits tells a story of husband and wife, Joe and Missy May who are content with their lives until a lust for wealth takes over. Their longing for prosperity actually hurts their perfectly happy relationship until they realize this themselves.
Overall, the Global Oneness Banquet was a wonderful experience that I wish not to take back. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, growing up I was not made fully aware of the lives of people less fortunate then myself. Attending Loyola University Maryland has definitely changed this about me though and last night’s event only further showed me how unaware I was and how much I have learned and grown over the past two years.