Everybody knows about the elephant in the room we don’t talk about, but what about the invisible gorilla we don’t see? If you haven’t seen the video, I highly recommend it. It blew my mind when I saw it for the first time. Recently I read an article in the New York Times that made me think about one of the invisible gorillas we deal with every single day: hunger in our neighborhood. It’s an interesting article that I’d encourage you to read. It presents the findings from a study that talks about how we miss objects that are right in front of us, especially when we are not expecting them. In many ways, our brains see what we expect to see and totally miss what we don’t expect to see, even when it’s in plain sight.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m stretching this concept a bit when I apply this to hunger, but I do see some parallels. Food insecurity is right in our community where we live, play, and work, yet we don’t seem to notice it. One in eight Washingtonians don’t get enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. One in five rely on their local food bank. That means people we see every day—our neighbors, coworkers, friends, even random strangers at the grocery store—are experiencing food insecurity. Yet when people learn the extent to which food insecurity exists in our community, they are surprised and shocked. But once people see it, they cannot un-see it.
Our job then is to make the invisible visible. We hope increasing awareness about the issue will sway politics to enact legislation that will address the root causes of hunger. It’s high time we start seeing and showing the gorilla.