Long retired from political careers on opposite sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate, George McGovern and Bob Dole recently joined forces to write a book about hunger It's a matter that drew the Democrat and Republican to co-sponsor legislation during previous decades that resulted in programs like food stamps, WIC (Women, Infants and Children—supplemental food assistance) and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Plan.
The book is Ending Hunger Now: A Challenge to Persons of Faith (Fortress Press, 2005; $12). Donald E. Messer, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, is the third author of this book, for which former President Bill Clinton wrote the introduction.
Here are excerpts from two chapters:
“Ending World Hunger: A Battle We Can Win”—George McGovern
“A Commitment to Ending Global Hunger”—Bob Dole
“After world leaders at the 2005 Group of Eight summit promised to double aid to Africa to $50 billion, the popular rock star Bono, front man of the band U2, noted the decision could save hundreds of thousands of lives from hunger, poverty, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Bono warned, however, that ‘it’s not the end; it’s the beginning of the end. A mountain has been climbed here only to reveal higher peaks behind it.’ This reminds me of wartime words uttered by Winston Churchill in 1943, when he declared, ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.’
“Climbing these political and humanitarian peaks to conquer poverty and hunger will require persistence and sustaining a political will. Now that I am eighty-three years old, I do not expect to see the end of world hunger—unless the good Lord extends my years beyond one hundred. But, as I noted in my book, The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time
, I do intend to complain loudly to St. Peter if I am called above (or raise the devil, if I’m called below) before we end hunger in America. I also expect to see us reach well past ‘the end of the beginning’ of our victory over world hunger. If we can now reach other planets thanks to the scientific genius of our space architects, there is no acceptable reason why this planet should still have millions of hungry and starving men, women, and children by the year 2030. Wherever I am in the world beyond, if such there be, when my fellow humans are finally emancipated from hunger, I’m going to lead a chorus of celebration: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! ...
“There comes to mind a verse from the Hebrew Scriptures, by the ancient scribe Ecclesiastes: ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1
). I believe this is the season when all God’s children the world over should launch a triumphant campaign to banish hunger from the earth. Can there be any higher ‘matter under heaven’?” (pages 32-33, 48).
This week's front page features:
“Ending hunger, domestically and internationally, requires personal and political will. Individuals, churches, and other faith-based groups, through study, research, conferences, and direct service to the hungry contribute immensely to this effort. ...
“The Food Research and Action Center (www.frac.org
) is a leading national organization working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the United States. A public interest law firm, FRAC is both nonprofit and nonpartisan. Throughout the years that I have worked with FRAC, I have found the organization a reliable source of timely information and research. More importantly, FRAC believes that everyone, whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, has a role to play in ending hunger and malnutrition in this country. ...
“Make no mistake. You can make a difference—each and every one of you. Even on great moral issues like ending hunger, there must be a political and social will that moves the leaders of both political parties to devote their time, energy, and political capital to such an endeavor. Like any important national issue, we must be able to explain why our campaign to end hunger should be a national priority. ...
“There is, of course, a federal budget deficit. How the federal government spends its money is a political process. It is a process that demands your attention. ... I have visited President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties, asking them to renew our nation’s commitment to ending hunger. Even in times of war and concern about the federal deficit, progress against hunger is feasible.
“We can accomplish the goal of ending hunger. We can elevate this issue in the national consciousness” (pages 59-60).
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