Live Below the Line–why?

On Monday, I got a Tweet  and an email from Zhanna Veyts, the director of online engagement for HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. She will “live below the line,” from April 28 to May 2, that is, she will eat and drink on $1.50 a day, for 5 days, to raise awareness of extreme poverty and help raise $30,000 for HIAS. Zhanna claims she was inspired by Aisha, a Darfuri refugee just exactly her age, who is dependent on HIAS for survival and yet has big dreams for the future of her newborn son.

This is something the young people with social consciences seem to do today, deny themselves for others, thinking it will help somehow, ‘raise consciousness.’

I think it’s nuts, as irrational as mothers in the 40s, 50s, and 60s saying ‘finish your food, there are children starving in _____,” was.

Now I spend about $1.50 a day paying Weight Watchers to help me track my food so I can lose weight.  I didn’t go to the guidelines, so I don’t know if spending $1.50 a day to NOT eat is the same as spending $1.50 a day to eat, or if it entitles me to spend $3.00 a day, or what.

Me being hungry is not going to feed the refugees around the world today, just as me finishing my dinner wasn’t going to help them 50 years ago. What will help is actually making the donations to the charities that actually feed people, like the JDC and HIAS and the Red Cross and other NGOS who actually feed refugees. Starving yourself will not help anyone. But watching Hugh Jackman is fun, so I’ll include his “live below the line” video here.

The “Live Below the Line” meme was created in 2009, in Australia, by a couple of activists in a ‘share house,’ who wanted to raise awareness of extreme poverty. Hugh Jackman is Australian. Coincidence? I think not.

For a person in a civilized Western country to follow these guidelines is just a stunt, like sitting on a pole or stuffing a phone booth, or a walkathon, or readathon, or even a charity run or ride or marathon.

Can you tell I’ve been giving money away for 45 years, 52 years if you count Unicef and JNF boxes I used as a child, and I’ve gotten jaded?

I’m going to look at those guidelines now, and see if you can use stuff already in your house during the challenge.  I could probably eat a bland, starchy diet, supplemented by greens from my garden, for 5 days without spending a dime.

Perfect to clean the house before Passover.


About Onecakebaker

Author of a memoir called The Girl On the Wall, and working on a novel. Former Synagogue president, gardener, empty nester. Raising bees.
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1 Response to Live Below the Line–why?

  1. gsbuck says:

    I think the exercise would be more effective if the person “living below the line” took the money they would normally spend on food & gave it to someone who actually lives below the line so they can eat like a Muggle for a week.

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