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General Interest, Politics

HEY OBAMA! EARN THAT PRIZE AND END THE SILENT SLAUGHTER OF STARVATION.

Let’s call President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize an incentive award. He has yet to do anything meaningful about world peace and is in fact in charge of two wars. Granted, he inherited both wars from his predecessor Bush The Younger, but it’s almost 10 months now and we’re still occupying Iraq and Afghanistan years after we defeated their armies and toppled their governments. To his credit, he has changed the atmosphere considerably for the better in Washington and has reached out to other world leaders to find common ground and to work together rather than dictate America’s terms to the world, so that’s at least something.

Not enough for a Nobel Peace Prize, though. He can still earn that prize, however. All he has to do is mobilize more large armies, but not the kind that carry weapons. Obama can mobilize the Peace Corps in an expanded role to meet a dire world emergency, the Starvation Crisis. What crisis, you ask? Is this something new that just happened, you’re wondering? Well, no. It is The Silent Slaughter, a plague that is killing 36,000 people every single day of every single year for a very long time now. 85% of the victims of this global scourge are children under 5 years old. One human being dies of starvation every 2.6 seconds. The global economic troubles threaten to make that figure leap higher.

It is not a sudden death, but a prolonged and agonizingly painful one. The muscles atrophy, skin becomes dry and cracked, and the mind becomes delirious, often unable to register the fact that the body is stripped of nutrients, fat reserves, blood sugar and essential vitamins. Skeletal bodies digesting themselves send victims into a lethargic stupor broken only by delirium and severe pain. The body dehydrates and the immune system is ravaged, making starvation victims prey to every sort of virus and fungus imaginable. The brain is damaged as the body draws every last bit of nutrition from itself in an effort to survive. Eventually they become too weak to move, or eat or cry out. Then they die. Thirty six million people every year.

It is for others to cry out their pain and their need, and few are listening. In a world that panics over a flu that will not kill one day’s worth of starvation victims before it runs its course over a year or more, there is no panic, no declared emergency, no pandemic announced for a global disaster that kills more people than any other cause, including old age (a dream for the hungry). In fact, there is very little reaction at all to The Silent Slaughter. The news media avoids the issue, perhaps because of its lack of drama and entertainment value. Or maybe starvation is simply taken for granted as an unavoidable consequence of a world population explosion, with six and half billion people and counting sharing this earth. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a bountiful world, and many nations are brimming with food, more than enough to feed the hungry. Many places where starvation is rampant also have the potential to be bountiful with the application of education, technology and infrastructure. Many people are willing to help, to give, to teach and to work to solve The Silent Slaughter. What is missing is a voice, an international voice to sound the alarm. A voice to declare a global emergency. A voice to speak for the helpless, a voice to tell mankind what is happening under their noses, and that this is completely unacceptable. A voice that holds power and authority and one that can mobilize armies of teachers, technicians, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, farmers, irrigation specialists, food workers and engineers.

That voice can be Barack Obama. He has the ear of the world, the respect of nations, the power of the United States at his command and the charisma necessary to give the whole world a wake up call. He is perhaps the only world leader today in a position to call on all nations to end starvation. While America has a lot of surplus food and the necessary personnel to put to the task, it cannot feed the world alone. There are many wealthy nations that produce extraordinary amounts of food, and many nations with the educated base of technicians, teachers, agricultural scientists and medical staff that will be required. There is also much unused arable land.

America pays farmers (!) not to grow food. The nation of Russia has millions of square miles of unused farmland, so much that they are leasing some of it to other nations. With Russia’s desire to become a major player on the world stage again, what better way to do it than to feed the hungry with her fallow farmland? What better way to make the world forget the negative image projected by the Soviet Union? Let Obama invite and challenge them to become partners with other wealthy nations in a global War on Hunger. America can set the example by cutting 10% of our military budget to fund the New Peace Corps. That won’t be a huge sacrifice to America, the nation that currently spends more on our military than the rest of the world combined.

That is not a typo – America spends more money on its military than the rest of the world combined. And we do this while a child dies every few seconds because there is no food. Hell, the conservatives already hate Obama, so it’s not like he’ll be making any new enemies by cutting our military spending. If we cut our military budget by 10%, will the world notice that America only has 90 predator robot warplanes instead of 100? Or 18 nuclear missile-armed submarines each capable of laying waste to the entire surface of the earth instead of 20 nuclear missile-armed submarines each capable of laying waste to the entire surface of the earth? Hardly.

But the world will notice if America leads the way to ending the Silent Slaughter, leading with aggressive and comprehensive action. It is certainly not enough to feed people for a day or a week or a month. When the apparatus for feeding them is dismantled, starvation will be waiting to kill again and again. Of course first people must be fed and nursed back to health. Once that is accomplished is when the real work begins; the teaching, the building and the irrigating. The beneficial knowledge of the United States Department of Agriculture must be made available worldwide.

There are too may places still tilling the land just as they did 1,000 years ago, still sticking with the same crops that suck the nutrients from the soil until only withered and sickly crops grow. That is why real education must be done, not only about farming methods, but reading and writing and modern technical skills. No sense giving someone a modern farm machine if he cannot read the instruction manual or learn to repair it. Water supplies must be purified too, since impure drinking water-related diseases kill another 8 to 10 million people annually. How many photos in National Geographic do we have to see of people drawing their drinking water from the same streams and rivers where animals defecate and factories pour out their unfiltered chemicals before we understand how much of a problem this is?

Automation, computers and scientific methods must be introduced to Third World farmers and food workers. The exciting work that has been done in genetically altered crops must be shared with poor nations. Ancient, unproductive and unhealthy farming traditions simply have to go. There is nothing quaint about these back-breaking and futile farming methods that contribute to starvation instead of relieving it. Farming is survival, and survival must be undertaken by the best available means. Nations receiving these anti-sarvation armies and the long term benefits given them will have a chance to become prosperous nations, trading partners with the community of nations.

If the world wants to be a community of nations, and we as people wish claim our full humanity and declare our worth, we must all help the starving of this world. We must do it because it is right and it is good and because the dying are our brothers and sisters. If an American died of starvation every few seconds this nation would move mountains to fix the problem. Well, the mountains to be moved are all over the world, and America is the leading world power, in effect a global empire. Over what sort of world will America preside? One filled with endless wars where there are only haves and have-nots? A world where the have-nots die every 2.6 seconds for lack of food?

Or will the time of America’s world supremacy be one of feeding the hungry, curing the sick and helping the helpless to become whole and strong again? A powerful voice is needed, a clear message sent and a great campaign started. Let Barack Obama be that voice and let America be the America it is capable of becoming, the America we all want to be. It is within our power, and if we let this Silent Slaughter go on, shame on us all. We must vow to no longer step over the broken bodies of our brothers and sisters. No more can we avert our eyes and turn our backs, not when a child dies every few seconds, a child every bit as precious as our own. We must act now, and we turn to our leader to sound the alarm. Earn that Peace Prize, Mr. President, and end The Silent Slaughter.

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