a blog with cultural bulimia.

Monday, May 24, 2004

maslow's pyramid

During the siege of Kuito, Angola, in the early 1990's, Carlos Sicato, a World Food Program worker, described a man producing an old chair and promising his family, 'If we don't die today, we can survive for four more.' He soaked its leather for 15 hours to soften it and remove the tanning chemicals. Then, with boiling water, he made 'lamb soup.'

Anne-Sophie Fournier, director of the American branch of Action Against Hunger, said she had read that the victims of the Soviet famines of the 1930's ate furniture, too. The scene in 'Gold Rush' in which Charlie Chaplin, trapped in a Yukon cabin, ate his shoe (actually made of licorice) was not entirely fanciful.

Starvation brings out what professional famine fighters call 'coping mechanisms.'

The simplest is such a truism that it seems absurd: When there is little food, people eat less.

Have you ever been REALLY hungry? So hungry that the only thing you think about is how to stop it, even if it means stealing food? Or eating your shoes, a la Chaplin?

Maslow's Pyramid seems obvious but I can tell you from experience that if you will need each level, from bottom up, taken care of before you can advance to the next level.

I have been hungry.

In a world where the rich spend millions on ways to avoid carbohydrates and the United Nations declares obesity a global health threat, the cruel reality is that far more people struggle each day just to get enough calories.
The New York Times > Week in Review > Staving Off Starvation: When Real Food Isn't an Option