There’s a lot of incredibly negative news lately in our country and around the world. Divisiveness, verbal and physical attacks, wars with words and wars with bombs. We can easily get swept up into a feeling of despair and a loss of hope. Then there are experiences that feed the soul, I was fortunate to have one of those recently.
I had the privilege and opportunity to speak at UCF’s 22nd Annual Hunger Banquet that their Student Involvement Office organizes. As I made my way through the maze of buildings on the UCF campus I found my destination; the Student Union Building, at the very heart of the campus. I found it fascinating that in the main floor of that building is a giant food court offering a variety of different types of food….and this is where the “Hunger Banquet” is taking place. It was another reminder that food is typically at the center of things and is powerful in terms of drawing people together, whether it’s at school, home or at the office.
The room was filled with 200 – 250 students who are deeply interested in making the world a better place. Wow, talk about a good vibe. The group was split into three groups for dinner. One third sat in a VIP section and were served a three course meal with a huge slab of chocolate cake. Another third were seated separately on conference chairs and had to get their own rice and beans and a beverage. The remaining third sat in a separate section on the floor on top of newspapers and lined up for rice and water. The remainder of the evening included dialogue around these three different classes in the world today. Students shared observations on the feeling of lack of dignity while watching others enjoy their dinners. Several students spoke about the need for more people to understand that the vast majority of folks in need are not there by choice but by unfortunate circumstances and environment. Others spoke about how each and every good deed, no matter how small is so important.
Two other presenters shared very creative observations of less fortunate people. A photographer told a story by sharing impactful portraits of homeless people and their stories. Another provided an impassioned poem on social justice that was a combination of rap, didactic and a couplet. When she completed her poem, you could hear a pin drop in the banquet hall. We were left speechless.
What I heard throughout the evening was a message of hope. I was filled with a sense of hope thinking about this younger generation and their energy and passion for others that are less fortunate. This is a group that lives out a saying I once heard…”It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness.” Let’s hear it for the Knights and for hope!
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida