It seems as if world citizens are reacting irrationally to disease, defilement, and death as they have in times past. They are fighting each other over toilet paper but the last I heard, there is no nutrition in a whole roll. It makes a little (but not much) sense to fuss, fret, and fight over food, but toilet paper? Many people may die for lack of food but they will be surrounded by a large quantity of toilet paper!
It appears we not only have a temporary shortage of toilet paper but a permanent shortage of common sense.
You can exist without toilet paper since mankind did until 1920. It didn’t come to West Virginia until about 1940 based on my personal experience. But we couldn’t afford it. Food has been around a little longer and is considered indispensable while toilet paper is only important.
The Daily Mail reported on a British study that revealed any city or nation is only “nine meals from anarchy.” The report said that it would take only “nine meals - three full days without food on supermarket shelves - before law and order started to break down, and British streets descended into chaos.”
The reason for empty shelves and empty stomachs isn’t important since it could be a national lockdown resulting in disruptions in the food chain, or political unrest, or a natural disaster. People will react as they have in all nations, in all ages, and under all circumstances - panic, fighting, looting, thievery, even killing to get food.
I remind you that all of mankind’s trouble started with food when Adam and Eve refused to obey God about food. And it has been a constant struggle for mankind since that day. Man’s chief drive through the ages is to find enough food and water to sustain himself. In the Garden of Eden, man received a mandate that he would have to fight the bugs and beetles, weeds and weevils in order to produce enough food to sustain himself. God didn’t promise us a rose garden but He gave us the ability to grow one for ourselves that includes beans, potatoes, corn, onions, and tomatoes - even okra and beets if you are really hungry.
However, it would require work, a dirty four-letter word.
If we don’t work, we don’t eat; therefore, we starve. Some people are too lazy to work and some simply think it is foolish to work if they can convince others to provide them a place to stay and food to eat.
Animals instinctively know that food is required to survive as the daily struggle is evidenced with the life and death battle in the wild kingdom. Recently, we saw hundreds of hungry monkeys fighting over one single banana in Thailand after the coronavirus pandemic caused a massive drop in the number of tourists who normally feed them. Days later, they (the monkeys) fought over a cup of yogurt.
It may be the tourists tomorrow (...fighting over the food).
Moreover, there is no record of monkeys ever fighting over toilet paper.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, people looted “in order to feed themselves and their families.” However, much of the looting in all disasters is greed, not groceries - and stealing is never justified.
The major cities and nations of the world are locked down; streets are empty; schools are closed; stores, restaurants, and markets are vacant; violent prisoners are being released; airplanes are parked; the world has stopped because of an invisible bug - the Chinese coronavirus.
What if there is a sudden shutdown of oil supplies - no fuel for trucks that move food to our cities; no diesel to run farmers’ tractors; production methods are now such that 95% of all the food we eat in the world today is oil-dependent. So what happens when wells are not pumping, trucks are not running, and grocery shelves are empty?
Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, London declared, “We are sleep-walking into a crisis.” London imports 80% of its food, so London is close to a major crisis.
We are in big trouble if farmers can’t produce food, truckers can’t deliver to grocery stores, and farmers quit the farm and move to the city.
Zerohedge.com reported the average farm income has fallen to near 15-year lows in the U.S. resulting in bankruptcies, suicide, and farmers giving up and leaving the farm. Farmers are not sleeping well because major commodity prices have plunged “by about half since 2012, farm debt jumped by about a third since 2007, bad weather prevented farmers from planting nearly 20 million acres in 2019 alone, and U.S. soybean exports to China dropped 75 percent from 2017 to 2018 amid festering trade tensions.”
Obviously, there are major problems down on the farm so that means problems at the dining room table. Farmers are fleeing the farms and if they don’t farm, we don’t feast.
USA Today reported that more than 450 farmers killed themselves in nine Midwestern states from 2014 to 2018 all related to failure to successfully produce food.
Americans spend more money on food than on almost anything else in their budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally “we spend more than $7,700 per year on groceries and going out to eat. For rural and suburban consumers it's their third-highest expense after housing and transportation.” City residents spend more on housing followed by food than anything else.
This coronavirus may change us in many ways including the way we eat as happened with other plagues. During the Middle Ages, a person’s status determined what he ate and how he dressed. Consider, for example, the average diet of an English peasant before the 1300s when their diet consisted of bread and oatmeal pottage; very little bacon; and thin ale. Following the plague, their diet consisted of beef and mutton instead of bacon; wheat bread instead of barley; fresh fish instead of salted herring. The peasants ate better after the plague than before!
However, the peasants were held back in their attempt to get better food by lecturers, literature, and legislation criticizing the “greed” of the workers and tried to restrict their ability to earn better wages and eat better food. In other words, the poor needed to stay poor.
William Langland’s Piers Plowman in 1360 reminds us that beggars even ate better following the pestilence and they refused the cheap ale and wanted the “brownest that brewers sell.” Moreover, they demanded fresh fish instead of bacon.
Poet John Gower in the 1400s declared if a person was hired to serve in a household, he scorned “all ordinary food…he grumbles…and he will not return tomorrow unless you provide something better.” The peasants, while earlier were pleased to eat “course food,” now felt empowered and became demanding.
It was obvious that the peasant class knew they had far more power since workers were few, so they demanded the right to dress up and to eat up. The upper class did not like their uppity ways; however, it was inevitable that the world had changed and was going to change even more.
Sumptuary legislation (an attempt to regulate personal habits on moral or religious grounds to preserve class distinctions) prevented people from eating food that was not appropriate to their status and was intended to control conspicuous consumption. Such arrogant laws restricted the kind of food available to people based on income and social position. For example, the English sumptuary legislation of 1363 declared that lads “shall have meat or fish to eat once a day,” and at other times “food appropriate to their estate, such as milk, butter, and cheese.” Likewise, live-in servants were to receive “appropriate, not excessive, food and drink.”
It seems the English had come through the plague but their common sense had not improved.
I suggest people stop, take a deep breath, be thankful you’re not living in the England of the Middle Ages, go home and read the books you have boasted of reading, including the Bible, and get to know your kids better and thank God for life, liberty, and health - then plant a garden to be sure of having food this summer.
It seems we not only have a temporary shortage of toilet paper but a permanent shortage of common sense.