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This week I am partaking in the Live Below the Line Challenge.  For the next 5 days I will be eating on less than $1.50 per day.  The idea is, by so doing, I will be able to sympathize with people who are forced to live like this day in and day out for their entire lives. It sounds very noble, and in theory I am sure it is.

I have found, however, my mind has started to corrupt this concept. From the very beginning my ego began asserting itself.

My ego said, “Hey Jim, this will be a very noble thing to do. This will bring awareness to a horrible problem and you will feel good about doing it.” And I thought, “Yeah.  Yeah!  What a great idea.  Maybe I won’t feel so guilty about the indulgent eating I do during the other 51 weeks.”

And then my ego said, “That’s right. And your friends and family will really understand what an awesome, giving, compassionate and caring person you are. “ And I was like, “This does sound like a good idea!” But yesterday, thankfully, was a pride shaking wake up call. It was the day I had to go and spend less than $1.50/day at Walmart.

Here is what I walked out with:

  • 1 lb. of enriched rice: $.84
  • 1 lb. of lentils: $1.08
  • 1/4 lb. of broccoli: $1.47
  • 5 packets of Ramen noodles: $1.00
  • 6 eggs: $1.08

Add in the 2% sales tax and my total bill was: $5.58. $1.12 per day.

I walked out of the store with my tiny little bag, such a far cry from my last trip to Costco with my family and a HUGE cart full of extravagances. I couldn’t help but dread, just a tiny bit, the week of bland eating I had ahead of me. If what I purchased yesterday was food, then what I have purchased nearly all my previous adult life can only be described as luxury.

My ego has quieted.  I now feel weighed down by what I can only describe as a kind of “survivor’s guilt.” This is the understanding that I am able to quit this experiment in 5 days.  1.2 billion other people have no such option, no set “finish line” in their future.  I remind myself that those 1.2 billion people would not feel dread upon leaving the store with a bag full of “bland” food, but would likely feel overjoyed with a sense of relief.

So is this a noble challenge?  Only if you, the reader, and I decide to get more involved, more committed to fight against the injustice of poverty.  Please help how you can and where you can.  Feel free to write me or comment on how you feel you can help those unfortunate enough to live this burden every day.

Jim with his daily meal of rice & lentils
Jim with his daily meal of rice & lentils


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