The Notion “Hungry People Revolt”: An Offense to Humanity Belayneh Abate

February 21st, 2011 Print Print Email Email

You read any news paper; you open any magazine; you log in to any website; you listen to any radio; you watch any channel; you may find attempts to correlate the current revolts across North Africa and Middle East to economical problems. In my opinion, this futile effort to ascertain the economical crisis as the root cause of peoples’ revolt is an insult to humanity.

The question how humans differ from other animals is perhaps as old as human species itself. Many thinkers dedicated their lives in search of an answer for this question and many still continue exploring further. Some scientists think the ability to make tools; and others suggest the ability to work distinguishes humans from other animals. Research works of some cotemporary biological anthropologists have demonstrated that humans diverge from animals in their cognitive abilities. Anatomically, this cognitive ability subsists in the cerebrum, not in the lower part of the brain, certainly not in the stomach and colon where chewed food and feces reside respectively. Even intuition dictates that cerebrum where information is meticulously processed, where knowledge is categorically stored, where righteous judgment begets from, and where the moral thermostat- conscience resides in differentiates us from other animals. Otherwise, we do share all the other parts of the body, including the lower brain, with donkeys, hyenas, pigs, and so on.

Since grade school, I have been taught that the basic necessities of life are food, water and shelter. This perception may still be true for sub-humans; However, I no more believe this applies to humans. As a human living in the 21st century, I believe humans’ basic needs should include ingredients such as reign of justice, autonomy to think, freedom of speech, and other components of human rights that gratify commonsensical and righteous cerebrum. If sub-human dictators do not rip off these necessary inborn human traits and priceless wealth, enabled- people may hardly run homeless or live starved.

Under the premises of “hungry people could revolt and be involved in criminal activities”, many western-based giant governmental and non-governmental organizations including World Bank and IMF toil to reduce hunger, not to mitigate human rights abuses or injustice in the poor nations. And yet, they call this endeavor humanitarian work. Alas! A humanitarian work! I suggest an alternative name for this misguided enterprise: animalitarian work-feed them to keep them hushed. As many of you may agree, humans crave to feed their cerebrum in addition to their stomachs. Perhaps, only sub-human animals with packed bellies sleep quiet while their brains starve.

Under despotic rules, the fact on the ground shows that hungry people live more fearful lives than even hunted deer live. People under tyranny rules are continuously subjected to corruption, intermediation, torture, migration, crimes against humanity and genocide. Their quest for free speech and social justice is severely impaired by tyranny- induced fear, diseases and starvation. These unfortunate people walk their bones anchoring their skin with no meat in between. These people live extremely exhausted with too little stamina to revolt. They are deprived of access to modern communication technology. Under these scenarios, the only individuals who could be involved in criminal activities against their own people or others are the inhumane dictators and their supporters (the very individuals who snatch the AID from the above mentioned organizations.) Unfortunately, supported by the some wealthy nations, many dictators have committed all sorts of crimes one can imagine to keep their tummies jam-packed and their power secured. I tend, in fact, to argue that tyrants are far more dangerous than beasts for the following reasons. Firstly, beasts rarely slaughter their predator if they are full. On the other hand, tyrants do not stop butchering and harassing their citizens even after they amass public property in billions and stay in power for decades. Secondly, no beast tends to commit massive crimes and genocide against its own species.

Contrary to the popular claim, which goes “hungry people revolt”; history has shown people rebel when they are treated like sub-humans, not just by the time they feel extremely hungry like hyenas. Gandhi revolted not because his belly was vacant but because the world, especially the Indian subcontinent, was suffering from famine of justice and human rights respect. Martin Luther King Jr. marched not because his tummy was growling but because he was watching injustice in action everywhere. Mandela rebelled not because his plate was bare but because he had been witnessing state sponsored crimes and injustice against his people. Hello people! If we tend to revolt merely because our bellies are unfilled, we should deem ourselves as beasts, certainly not as humans. With the same token, if we tend to hide behind the scenes merely because our bellies are full of baloney, we shall label ourselves as pigs, frankly not as humans.

In conclusion, even scriptures proclaim “man shall not live on bread alone!” We humans need more than just our daily bread. We indeed quest something supratentorial-something cerebral. Conscientious humans revolt not because their bellies are vacant but because the traits of humanity are dreadfully endangered and damaged. In my view, the general notion that people revolt merely because they feel hungry or face economical crisis is an offense to humanity. Thank you, reader.

The writer can be reached at abatebelai@yahoo.com

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