Dante Alighieri, in the 14th-century, wrote the epic poem, Divine Comedy. With a name like Dante Alighieri, it sounds as if he should be a chef at Spago or Restaurant Guy Savoy instead of a fabled writer.
To me, Dante was a Late Middle Ages finger-wagger. You made your bed, and you were going to have to sleep in it. And if you didn’t live right, your bed was going to be in hell.
In his poem, Virgil proceeds to guide Dante through the nine circles of Hell. The circles are concentric, representing a gradual increase in wickedness, and culminating at the center of the earth, where Satan resides. The sinners of each circle are punished for eternity in a fashion fitting their crimes: each punishment is a symbolic instance of poetic justice. For example:
“Third circle: overindulgence in food and drink, but also other kinds of addiction. Gluttony is considered a sin if their excessive desire for food causes it to be withheld from the needy.”
When I first saw that gluttony was a sin, I couldn’t understand it. I thought, “Where’s the victim?” But taken in the context of the gluttony causing food to be withheld from the needy, it makes sense.
In a global sense, if we don’t make attempts to share all of the food with the needy people of the world, aren’t we all guilty? According to the website, Action Against Hunger, there is more than enough food to feed everyone on this planet, and 815 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each night. That’s about 11% of the world’s population.
Abundance versus disparity – that seems to be what it’s all about. And if we are allowing this to happen, maybe we as a country are all “guilty as sin.”