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A Simple Vision Test

Most of us sit to eat a meal. At a table. On the sofa. In a booth. Even on the ground. Doing so provides a great opportunity for a simple vision test. It goes like this: once we have piled the food on our plates, instead of diving in with utensil in hand, pause for a moment. Or maybe several. Then look. Really look. What do we see? Colors, yes. Textures, perhaps. Are we able to see more? Like fields harboring plants while they grow. Patches of earth supporting livestock until maturity. Stretches of land holding in place shelter for hens laying eggs. Good start! Yet there’s more to see…

The farmers who rise before dawn. The laborers who harvest until the light slips from the sky. Drivers who continually haul from storehouse to market. Stockers who lift from pallets to shelves. Preparers who slice, dice, stir, whip, boil, broil, bake, season, and serve. How much can we see in what is piled on our plates?

When it comes to our “daily bread,” we are deeply intertwined with not only the earth and all the elements of nature, but also with a host of people we’ll probably never meet, never get to know, never even speak to. Do we recognize our dependency? And do we acknowledge the value of all that we might otherwise take for granted? Are we concerned for the welfare of the earth and all that lives upon it? Do we care about the conditions of laborers and the sustainability of farmers? Do we recognize and respect the humanity of the employees of the markets and restaurants we frequent? Are we willing to test our vision?

In this country, we are about to observe the holiday we call Thanksgiving. The day largely focuses on food with a helping of football on the side. Yet there are many around us, near us – no matter where we live – who struggle just for “daily bread” so that a feast of food is unthinkable. And there are so very many upon whom we rely to supply all that we will enjoy as our tables are laden with more than we need. Would we ever consider extending our tables or turning the tables so that we would do with less and others enjoy a little more?

It was in kindergarten that I learned this curious little poem:

“Said the little girl as she asked for more,

‘But what is the turkey thankful for?’”

A good question indeed. And evidence of a simple vision test in action.

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