By Michael Mickler, Professor of Church History, UTS
Jesus said the poor will always be with us. He didn’t say they had to starve. Ending world hunger was one of Rev. Moon’s consuming passions. “Feeding others” was a deeply-rooted tradition in his family of origin and a persistent theme throughout his life and ministry.
In his autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen (2010), Rev. Moon devotes several sections to the problem of hunger. In an early section, “The Joy of Giving Food to Others,” he states:
By the time I was born and was growing up, much of the wealth that my great-grandfather had accumulated was gone, and our family had just enough to get by. The family tradition of feeding others was still alive, however, and we would feed others even if it meant there wouldn’t be enough to feed our family members. The first thing I learned after I learned to walk was how to serve food to others.
A later section titled, “A Grain of Rice is Greater Than the Earth,” describes his experience of hunger, in fact near-starvation, in a North Korean labor camp.
Rev. Moon’s upbringing and experiences led him to conclude, “True peace will not come as long as long as humanity does not solve the problem of hunger.”
He addressed the problem directly in two of his autobiography’s concluding sections. In the first, “Solution to Poverty and Hunger,” he took the position that “Simply distributing food supplies by itself will not resolve hunger.” He instead advocated a two-step approach: “The first is to provide ample supplies of food at low cost, and the second is to share technology that people can use to overcome hunger on their own.”
In the next section, “Going Beyond Charity to End Hunger,” Rev. Moon voiced a more internal perspective. He asserted, “The important point is concern for our neighbors. We first need to develop the heart that, when we are eating enough to fill our own stomachs, we think of others who are going hungry and consider how we can help them.”
In his view, “To solve the problem of hunger we must have a patient heart that is willing to plant seeds.” As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen highlights a number of his initiatives. These included the purchase of trucks to be used for the distribution of food to the poor in the United States; projects to process and store large quantities of fish; research into high-protein fish powder; a model farm project in the outback of Brazil; and support for technical schools and light industrial factories.