Back on April 29, Ben Affleck joined thousands of others who were taking the weeklong Live Below the Line challenge by living on $1.50 worth of food and drink per day. The goal was to raise awareness of the extreme poverty that 1.4 billion people live in. Almost three billion people in this world live on less than $2.50 a day. To get a sense of the project, the “Live Below the Line” video for musician Josh Groban:
For Groban and Affleck, this $1.50 per diem adjustment probably didn’t starve them – but it certainly caused some discomfort. What if they had the craving for a green tea frappuccino ($3.45 for a Tall) at Starbucks? What if one of them wanted a can of Budweiser ($2.25) with his rice porridge?
Sure, this is a situation that is ripe for #firstworldproblems jokes. And of course there is a huge difference between someone who lives on $1.50 for a week and those who do so for an entire lifetime. Still, I admire Affleck and the many others who have chosen choosing to forgo some of their daily comforts to stare into a reality that they would otherwise never have to face. Even local news anchors and fifth-graders are taking the challenge of frugality. (See how they’re eating these days here.)
Sacrifices like these, regardless how small, can help raise our awareness of the vast world outside our small piece of it. Gestures like the “Live Below the Line” challenge point to something bigger and make it possible for us to participate in that ‘something,’ even in small ways. We may never know the pains of extreme poverty, but these small moments of solidarity can connect us with world hunger. We may also find that it connects us in a concrete way to a bigger – and deeper – hunger in all of us.
Be sure to check out Ben Affleck’s progress on Twitter as he sampled a tiny taste of world hunger this past week.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) April 22, 2013