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I sometimes muse over whether the ostrich isn't the most apt animal totem of our age. Like that giant bird, so many of us react to problems by tizzying about and shoving our heads in the sand. With our sight thus obscured, we hope for someone to fix our troubles for us. 

How else to describe our response to the unweaving of those social threads that once bound us in the vision of a common humanity? Over the past decade, we've seen an alarming rise in poverty and hunger, yet so many of us have done so little. As we step over homeless people, we demonstrate anew how even the greatest horror can become mundane when seen often enough. 

We spend hours excusing ourselves for our inaction, while at the same time blaming others for theirs. We stick our heads in the sand and wait for others -- be they in government, social work or religion -- to come and solve the crises in our communities. 

Taking responsibility and action in our community is precisely the goal of Food Not Bombs collectives throughout the country. Food Not Bombs is not about hiring professionals, re-prioritizing the government, or financing new agencies; it is not at all about asking others to solve our communities' problems. It is about ordinary, non-heroic folk empowering themselves and coming together around food -- the most basic of issues -- as a way of providing for one another. 

When you sit around a Food Not Bombs table, you get to know people in a way that doesn't allow you to easily stick your head back into the sand. By literally breaking bread with these wonderful strangers, you're challenged to break stereotypes. This is an essentially revolutionary act. 

Sometimes I look around the Food Not Bombs table here in Philadelphia, and dream of a day when we will all take our heads out of the sand. Of a day when we will be able to look each other in the eye and reach out to each other in times of need. Of a day when we will provide ourselves and each other with free food, free housing, free education.

We here at New Society Publishers are proud to be a part of that dream, and proud to offer you Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community. Read the book and visit -- or start! -- a Food Not Bombs chapter in your town. Maybe you'll see why I sometimes wonder if that dream might not be closer than we all think.

Martin Kelley for New Society Publishers June 29, 1992 
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