Sunday, September 30, 2007


All right, class, the word for the day is hungry, and we might as well also take a look at its noun or verb form, hunger.

Now, we all know basically what that means. In fact, right now, I feel a bit hungry for a couple of brownies, the triple chocolate chunk kind; I like to throw in an extra handful or two of semi-sweet chocolate chips, for good measure. Maybe a cold glass of milk would be good, too.

According to Merriam-Webster, hungry means “characterized by hunger or increased appetite.” Okay, that’s probably the kind that would be fixed up by brownies.

On the other hand, a little different light is cast on this feeling when the verb or noun hunger is used. M-W says hunger is a “craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient; an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food; a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food.”

Near the border of Mexico live some of the hungriest children in the United States. They are fortunate if they have one meal a day, so their hunger seldom is satisfied. They suffer from chronic malnutrition, so they have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. They know what it means to be hungry.

In many places along the border, especially in New Mexico, Arizona, and west of the Rio Grande valley in Texas, the land itself is hungry—not rich or fertile—barren.

Other meanings of the word hungry are “eager or avid (as for affection)—highly motivated (as ambition).” Hunger, again, is more intense; it means “a strong desire, a craving,” such as “a hunger for success.” We have also hunger of the spirit—a need for closeness to God.

Those children who suffer from desperate hunger along the Mexican border can’t worry much about feeling these other kinds of hunger. Physical hunger, in the sense they experience it, is a symptom of a basic survival need; those needs must be met before any other. That’s how God made us, so that we would survive.

I looked up hunger for the purpose of writing this blog entry. And I am amazed to see the resources Merriam-Webster has included on the definition page for the word. After the definitions, M-W has a list of organizations who help with world hunger, as well as physician-reviewed articles about it. For example, this paragraph from Healthline is part of a linked article there:

Hunger is the physiological drive to find and eat food. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hunger is the world's major health risk. Globally, one in three people suffer from chronic hunger, which is a result of a lack of food security. Food insecurity means people do not have access at all times to nutritionally adequate food. There are three dimensions to food insecurity: a lack of (1) purchasing power (lack of money or resources), (2) accessibility (ability to get food), and (3) availability (amount of food). In the United States, hunger is caused by poverty, whereas in developing countries it is caused by poverty, war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy.

God tells us to feed the hungry, care for the poor. We could do much more to help than we do; we don't even have to deal with things like war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy. And America is covered up in food.

Oh, well, so much for a word study!

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