IF you watch any television at all, you've probably seen the grim images of starvation coming from places like the Sudan in Africa. The pictures of suffering are so horrible that they almost overwhelm. Humanly, the situation is complex. Much famine is due to severe drought or flooding, but this condition is often exacerbated by civil wars of incredible barbarity. Even when aid is available, it often can't reach those needing it, and sometimes starvation is actually used as a weapon by opposing sides. Innocent children are often the victims.
Greed, ignorance, economic exploitation, racial and tribal hatred, ruthless ideologies, genocidal wars -- when you get right down to it, man's inhumanity to man is by far the worst enemy of the world's children. The real issue is a word that often makes people uncomfortable, but what else can you call it but sin when tens of thousands of children starve to death each day even though there is more than enough food in the world? And what is it but sin that would have us watch these terrible images of intense suffering and not take some prac-tical, tangible action to help save the starving?
Sometimes not doing something is a far greater sin than the wrongs we actually commit. At least that's how Christ Jesus saw it.1 In his description of the last judgment, he says to the righteous, ``Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you...for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.''
When the righteous ask when they did these things for the King, he replies, ``Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'' On the other hand, those who ignored the pain and suffering of their neighbor are condemned.
If not caring is the worst of sins, if not loving our neighbor as ourselves is what would separate us from the kingdom of heaven, then isn't right now the time to show our love for God by our love for our neighbor -- wherever he or she may live? Charitable and philanthropic support is greatly needed, and there have been wonderful outpourings, as for the earthquake victims in Armenia.
But charity is really only a stopgap. In some cases, charity may be the easiest thing to give. A check in the mail, or some spare change to a street person, can sometimes be little more than a salve for conscience. And charity does not always enable the individual to become self-reliant and break out of the bonds of poverty and ignorance. The same goes for political and social programs.
No, what is needed to get rid of world hunger permanently is a profound spiritual revolution. A revolution that starts with the individual and expands to change societies and then nations. Isn't it obvious that if there's enough food for everyone, and if the technology and knowledge exist to eradicate hunger, and yet people are still starving to death, human nature itself must be changed? What can bring about such a fundamental change?
Here, Christian Science is mankind's great benefactor, because it shows how anyone who believes in God and in the power of prayer can raise himself and others to more spiritual views of man that literally change human nature. The transforming power of the Christ, which made Jesus the wonderworker he was, is available now. It still heals. It still saves. It still has the power to feed the multitudes when sufficiently understood.
In tomorrow's article we will look at how individuals can do something to get at the root causes of world hunger through the power of the Christ as understood in Christian Science.
1See Matthew 25:34-46. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I John 3:17