“Hunger used as a weapon” “incomprehensible and intricate political decisions” that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching war zones, whereas armaments of all kinds arrive there undisturbedly. Once again, Pope Francis unmasked the hypocrisy of the powerful of the earth. He has did in the headquarters of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, which has hosted a Pontiff for the first time.
Bergoglio pronounced these words just a few hours after the Orlando massacre, perpetuated against “innocent people”. Yet, this is a general reflection and it concerns primarily the suburbs of the planet, where the “warlords” grow rich spilling human blood. Tragedies we all know about, but towards which we have lost sensitivity. “The excess of information we have at hand gradually naturalizes misery”. Day after day, our “immunity” to the pain of the others grows and many lives become “a pieces of news, which is replaced by another one soon after”. “We see pain, but do not touch it – the Holy Father added -; we hear people crying, but do not comfort them; we see thirst, but do not extinguish it”.
In short, the world grows cynical. We judge things through data and numbers, which are useful to understand the scope of a problem, but which are likely to make us forget the faces of those who suffer. Hunger and poverty are not tragic in themselves, but in as much as they concern millions of single individuals. “When misery does no longer have a face, we can fall into the temptation of talking and arguing about ‘hunger’, ‘violence’, and ‘power’ while ignoring the person who knocks at our door.” This is the difference between charity and aid, pity and mercy. Between words and actions, since we must act with full compassion for our neighbor.
We must also stop giving ourselves easy answers. There is nothing natural – the Pope said – in “lacking of food”. It is “neither obvious nor certain”; put otherwise, we cannot shake off responsibility, hiding behind trite phrases such as “there are too many people on Earth.” If there is not enough food, in the 21st century, it is because “resources are distributed” in a selfish and wrong way. And because of waste. Bergoglio repeated the words he had already said during his visit to FAO. “Consumerism has made us get used to superfluous things and to waste food on a daily basis. Hence, we are no longer able to properly value it, looking beyond mere economic parameters.” A reminder that “wasted food is stolen from the table of the poor” will cause us no harm.
In the individualistic society anesthetized before the pain of the others, described by the Pope, violence is spreading and sometimes seems to be the only possible solution. “It seems that arms have acquired an extraordinary preponderance – Francis points out -, to the point of ignoring any other way to resolve the issues and problems”. This preference is so deeply rooted, that it hinders the “distribution of food in war zones”, reaching the point of violating the basics of the international law. This way, “we feed wars, not people”. On the one hand, the distribution of humanitarian aid is difficult (think of what is happening in the region of Fallujah in Iraq) due to “incomprehensible political decisions, misleading ideological visions, and insurmountable tariff barriers”; on the other hand, weapons circulate with a “defiant and almost absolute freedom.”