Jun 13, 2008

Food Riots. Possible in America?

The strains in our nation are evident to all by now. We’re hearing the collective groans of the millions of us who are digging into our pockets to pay gas prices that keep quivering with efforts to rise to $5.00 a gallon. Many are whimpering in disbelief at the many weather related disasters of late, with flooding and tornadoes and fires. And crime has become almost numbing to the conscience. We’re stunned at the violence that surrounds us. Horror stories keep leaping to the front pages and shock our conscience to the point that we’re almost immune.

Our population has grown now to over 300 million people–a staggering number when you stop and think about all the demands that 300 million people place upon an environment. We must have food, so we consume over 200 lbs of meat (red meat, poultry, fish) per person, per year. We grow and also import millions of tons of fruits and vegetables annually for consumption. Fish and poultry are now produced in massive quantities in the effort to stay up with the demands of so many people. Every day, 300 million people must eat two or three meals. That comes to millions of tons of food consumed on a daily basis in America alone.

What if it all stopped one day? Suppose catastrophic weather conditions hit America and the grains and fruits and vegetables become a scarce commodity? What happens? Well, the first thing is that imports would drastically increase. So would our prices. But, suppose weather conditions hit other producers, such as Mexico (which supplies America with millions of tons of fruits and vegetables)? What then?

What happens the day America can’t feed most, or a substantial portion of its 300 million citizens adequately?

The day that happens, we will begin to see a breakdown in our society that already has roots. It’s roots are in our lower income citizens. Currently, they are able to subsist on government assistance. They are able to eat. But, many of the lower income citizens have grown up on the mean streets of poverty, and there is an element there which is used to taking what they want. There are gangs of young men and women who will beat, rob and even kill to survive. If the day ever comes when food is a precious commodity, they will go looking for food. When they find it, they will take it by force. They’ll take first from their neighbors. But, eventually, they will come searching for food from wherever they can find it. There will be food riots–grocery stores emptied and trashed. There will be anarchy.

It will not be like it was in the Great Depression. There were no massive uprisings of anarchy and food riots, though there was hunger throughout the land. During that time, there was a shortage of food, money, jobs and even shelter. But, America put on its brave face, became stoic and endured the worst economic times of our history.

It will not be the same this time. There are too many criminal elements in our midst. Those elements will not be stopped by laws or locks or alarms. They will hunt much like the hunters of history did when they sought food on the open plains or in the woods. Danger will be everywhere because hungry people will be everywhere. We know that humans who are addicted to Meth or Cocaine will rob and become violent in order to feed their habit. But, their numbers are relatively few in comparison to the whole population. We have been able to contain them, more or less.

Imagine what would happen if the number of drug addicts was doubled and then doubled again, and then again. We’d be overwhelmed. That’s the kind of numbers of hungry souls that we will be dealing with if ever true famine hits America. And, far too many of them will do whatever they need to do in order to eat.

They are addicted to eating.

They are addicted to living.

We’d better plan for the lean years, lest we have a society that completely falls apart under the weight of massive anarchy.

We also might do well to pay attention to the wisdom found in an ancient writing which told about crop failures. It reads like this:

"When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. (The Book of First Kings, chapter 8:35-40).

God gave us America.

It remains to be seen whether or not we’ll acknowledge our need for Him.