This week I ordered a reproduction of Jean-Francois Millet’s great painting, The Gleaners. It caused considerable anger in 1857 among the aristocratic power holders of France, fearful of a return to revolution against the vast on-going inequities and exploitations in French society. I love the painting because it’s beautiful and it’s true.
I read in a news/commentary magazine this week that gleaning – the practice of letting the impoverished scour the fields post-harvest for any grain left behind – continues today. About 200 gleaning programs exist in North America, distributing about 50,000 tons of food each year to those too poor to buy food. And on the very next page, with no hint of irony, was a list of America’s ten wealthiest people, from Jeff Bezos (Amazon) at $179 billion to Alice Walton (Walmart – and the only woman) at $62.3 billion.
I wonder what meaning can be gleaned from this reality and to what nourishing use it can be put? Maybe start with promoting the worth and dignity of every person … maybe complete with preserving the interdependent web of our existence?