The Bible’s Viewpoint
Who Can Silence the ‘Cry of Hunger’?
“THE government cannot feed us because we are too many,” a black farmer in a fertile country of southern Africa told Awake! “For two years,” he explained, “our land has been dry. It has not been raining. The cattle are all dead because of hunger and thirst. Everyone is crying of hunger.”
A few days later, soaking rains brought relief to that region. But recovery will take a long time, and the ‘cry of hunger’ continues for other vast regions of Africa; nor is hunger limited to that continent. According to The Hunger Primer, published by Food for the Hungry, 43 countries of Asia and Latin America have “widespread undernutrition.”
But in recent times, the world’s attention has been focused on Africa’s famine, with “150 Million at Risk” according to a headline in The Times of London. Musicians in Britain and the United States have raised millions of pounds and dollars to aid hungry Africans. Horrified at seeing so many starving humans on TV screens, perhaps you have wondered, ‘Why hunger?’
Should We Blame the Weather?
“The public is not wholly satisfied by being told that the famine in Africa is caused by drought,” writes the director of the environment news service Earthscan, in the British magazine People. Why? For one thing, in past centuries drought has not always resulted in disaster.
Africa has enough good soil to grow food for more than its present population. But the world’s economic system does not encourage this. By governments’ yielding to economic pressure, farming peasants are driven away from good land—land now used to supply overseas markets with food and goods. Concern is thus being voiced for Africa’s rural poor majority, as many wonder whether they will ever get enough to eat.
Another factor is the way governments distribute wealth. “The cities where the governments live,” explains Lloyd Timberlake in his book Africa in Crisis, “have been torn from the countryside, and development budgets have gone to filling those cities with hotels, factories, universities and cars. This has been paid for by milking the seven out of every ten Africans who live on the land.”
Can Foreign Aid Stop the ‘Cry of Hunger’?
“At the same time that the outside world gives with one hand, it takes with the other,” states Famine: A Man-Made Disaster?, a report for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues. “Donor governments,” it continues, “should harbour no illusions. Far from aid being charity, donor countries are getting a bargain.” Why? Because donor countries often get much in return for such aid. Africa, explains the British journal The Ecologist, “remains a major source of supply of crops that we consume daily in the UK. . . . [It] is also a major producer of rubber, cotton, tropical hardwoods, and is increasingly developed as a source of cattle, vegetables and fresh flowers.”
True, Africa gets money for all these exports, but the money is seldom used to help the hungry. Instead, it is used to develop cities, to promote exports, to purchase arms, and to repay foreign-aid debts. “Because the poor are feeding the rich,” states the U.S. magazine The Nation, “famine in many parts of the world will increase. . . . Increased exports will profit international agribusiness, . . . but it won’t feed hungry Africans.”
A Government to Silence the ‘Cry’
Africa’s famine highlights an age-old adage: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” Explaining why such oppression continues, the Bible says: “That which is made crooked cannot be made straight.” (Ecclesiastes 1:15; 8:9) Yes, human governments are made up of imperfect people who are prone to selfishness. How can such institutions ever become “straight” and genuinely care for the needs of earth’s poor?
For an answer, consider how one of the worst droughts in Africa’s history was overcome. It started about 1730 B.C.E. and lasted for seven years. But Egypt’s ruler accepted divine direction by storing plenty of grain during the previous good years. Because of this, none of his subjects is reported to have died from hunger. In fact, people from other lands came to buy grain from Egypt because “the famine had a strong grip on all the earth.”—Genesis 41:1-57; 47:13-26.
To whom is divine direction pointing today? To the one shining exception to man’s sad record of oppression and crookedness—Jesus Christ. “He went through the land doing good,” the Bible reports. “He committed no sin.” (Acts 10:38; 1 Peter 2:22) ‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what does that have to do with a government that can silence the “cry of hunger”?’ A great deal because Jesus is the one appointed by God to be Ruler over all mankind. All the good that Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of hungry crowds, showed the superiority of God’s heavenly Kingdom over any human government. He also pointed forward to the time when God’s Kingdom will take over the rule of the entire earth.—Mark 8:1-9; Revelation 11:15.
Soon, God’s appointed Ruler will see to the fair distribution of food. He can silence the ‘cry of hunger.’ (Luke 21:10, 11, 31) The Bible contains this heartwarming promise respecting Christ’s rule: “He will have subjects from sea to sea and . . . to the ends of the earth. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth.” During that time no one will ever need to say, ‘‘The government cannot feed us,” for hunger, along with suffering and death, will be no more.—Psalm 72:8, 13, 16; Revelation 21:3-5.
[Picture on page 26]
The earth produces food in abundance