Friday, February 20, 2009

Ending Hunger: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Many years ago, almost in another lifetime, I collaborated on a book entitled Ending Hunger an Idea Whose Time has Come.  Dana Meadows, about whose death anniversary I wrote earlier today, conceived the book.  At the time more than one million people had committed themselves to ending hunger by ‘enrolling’ in The Hunger Project.  Dana was a Hunger Project Board member and she enrolled me.  The book’s idea was that these committed people needed information, from experts, marshaled usefully, to translate their commitment into action. The story of Ending Hunger’s writing was a turbulent one, but of less interest than the book itself.  Work on the book consumed a major part of my life for several years but after it saw the light of day, I rarely looked at it.

Two days ago I did.  The occasion was preparation for a class in ‘spirituality and global politics’ in which I was guest lecturing.  I experienced the book as a beautiful, path breaking work that has stood the test of time.  It remains as a testimonial, albeit unacknowledged, to Dana Meadows vision and intellect.  It was intended to communicate a simple, powerful message that was true and needed when the book was written and is true and needed today. The message was this:

Hunger exists

It doesn’t need to. 

The people who are working hardest to end hunger are hungry people themselves.

Clearly we know enough to end hunger

There is little consensus about what to do - knowledge is important, but intention and will are more important.  They are  prerequisite  using knowledge in a way that makes a difference.

There is also something to be learned from book’s methodology - to have a dialogue you must understand the opposing point of view and be able to articulate it as well as your own

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