Editors note: Today, we are republishing a previous blog post, but Simone has also provided us with some new remarks on the subject so we’ll lead with those….
I am thinking about famine. Although there have been famines throughout history due to crop failure, this is not only a phenomenon of the past. It is still happening. Today over 30 million people are experiencing acute hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
And of course in the US, the pandemic has called on Americans to rise to the challenge of providing sustenance to tens of millions of people who now cannot afford food. This country has been pretty good at preventing its own people from starving and we are doing fairly well in the current crisis. (at least foodwise) It’s not a famine, but it reminds me of one.
The Bible is awash in stories of famine. It was one of the reasons the Israelites fled Egypt.
“…And the Lord God sends famines to his people when he is displeased with their behavior.” (it sounds biblical, but I adapted it)
This view of God was promoted by the leaders of the time who were autocrats and ruled supreme over their people. It was easier to keep control in the name of God. Who could argue?
(Editor’s note: Asked Simone if “of the time” above referred to a particular time. She thought about it said, “Almost all the time.”)
The Irish potato famine devastated that country between 1846 and 1851 resulting in over a million deaths from disease and starvation. As a result, a mass exodus of Irish fled their country and arrived on the shores of the New World, settled and eventually prospered.
It wasn’t until two years ago that scientists isolated the pathogen that set off this catastrophe. I’m thinking the Irish were over-dependent on a single crop.
Many famines occurred in Russia and Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine was so fertile it was called the “bread basket of Europe.” Joseph Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization was intended to abolish private property, but when what you plant is no longer yours, your motive for working hard no longer exists. Millions died because of this tragically misguided policy.
In 1932-33 and again in 1946-47, Stalin’s failed thinking in dictating crop choices caused artificial ideology-based famines. Powerful leaders can cause a lot of trouble.
Today’s famines are partly caused by water shortage and climate change, but also result from war and and political upheval. Refugees cannot stop to plant crops, when they are fleeing .
Nobody should die of starvation today and yet it happens because people cannot find ways to resolve their conflicts.
It’s a good time to get away so I’ve been thinking about outer space.
When Christina Koch was five, she knew she wanted to be an astronaut. She became an electrical engineer and in October of last year, she and Jessica Meir, a marine biologist who scuba dives to study Emperor Penguins, made history by completing the first ever all-female spacewalk. They worked together for just over seven hours replacing a faulty battery charge/discharge unit.
Fifteen women have done space walks so far. It took awhile to get more women into space because of a lack of spacesuits that fit them properly. Spacesuits were designed in the 1970’s and all the original astronauts were men (and tall at that). And recently a NASA administrator has said there are “physical” reasons that make it difficult for women to perform spacewalks. I seriously doubt that and I’m not alone.
Here’s a quote from Christina that moved me. “I may not be the first woman to walk on the moon, but I think I will know the first woman who walks on the moon.”
Planet Earth is an oasis floating in the immense void of space and it is the only place that provides sustenance for humans. We can “walk” in space, but we cannot eat, drink breathe or sleep there.
We take our daily sensory inputs for granted until they are absent. The Big Void is not our natural living milieu. I learned that space suits are actually miniature spaceships for one person.
The flag just stands there like an unmoving sentinel. It has been planted in the vast nothingness of the moon’s surface and no wind ever ventures there.
Because there’s no air up there, the flag (original cost $4.95) was fitted with telescoping rods to hold it horizontally. They made the rods, they got them to the moon, but the lubricant on them was wrong so they couldn’t extend. So the flag looks like it is fluttering.
There are 6 other US flags on the moon, all intentionally designed so they will look the same as that first flag.
Part of the inscription at the base of the first flag reads:
”We came in peace for all mankind.”