I had the inspiring and infuriating experience of reading Roger Thurow’s book, Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, as well as hearing him speak, all within the past week. If you dare to read his work and hear his stories, be prepared to become infected with “a disease of the soul,” as he describes it.
Thurow is an award-winning jounalist for the Wall Street Journal who has compiled very personal, human stories of hunger which he and his co-author, Scott Kilman, have chronicled over the years from their visits to some of the poorest areas in the world. Their book is an intense and enraging collection of contributions to WSJ over recent years, stories of famine, suffering, bureaucracy, self-interests and starvation in an age when food is sufficient to feed the world. It is also an inspiring work, holding up the actions of heroic individuals who will never be known to us nor noted in the passing of the human parade; the work puts very human faces on people who are too often thought of as statistics in far-away lands. And the authors give us, in the end, hope and calls to action for ending perhaps the greatest shame of human history: our complicit involvement in the unnecessary deaths of 25,000 people every day from hunger or hunger-related disease.
Thurow visited Luther College in Decorah, Iowa to participate in the Upper Midwest Global Poverty Conference on November 21, sponsored by the Luther College One Campaign. His keynote talk contained many of the stories and much of the wrenching reality of hunger, especially as experienced on the African continent. As he delved into his experiences, the volume and timbre of his voice changed as the recollections of people met and lives lost became resurrected in his consciousness. This is a man who has felt the personal loss of individuals whom he has known and cared about. And he is tormented by the needless loss of human life that held so much potential for good in this world. As any of us would be, if we just allowed ourselves to truly know this scourge.
There are many books written about the tragedy of hunger on this planet. Many posit the enormity of the issue and the numbers of the afflicted. Few, however, have the ability to reach into the depths of our own conscience and sense of human responsibility as this one. I encourage and dare anyone to confront this book.
I am ill tonight, with an infection in my own soul. But I hope and pray to become better….