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William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger.”
Martin Luther King Jr. exclaimed: “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”
What we witnessed earlier this month, leading to the tragic assault on the U.S. Capitol, were self-serving leaders more interested in ruthlessly grabbing power than helping others. As Dr. King said, we need leaders “whom the lust of office cannot buy. Leaders who have honor, leaders who will not lie.”
This Martin Luther King Day, as we celebrate the great civil rights champion, let’s remember what we should expect from our leaders.
We need honest leaders who will work for the people and not for a political party. The people must come first before personal ambitions. The Democrats, Republicans and independents should work together for the people and not for their own agendas.
We are in the midst of the worst pandemic in over 100 years. Congress needs to craft a new relief package to help the American people, one substantially better than the last one, which took months to put together.
Americans are hurting from the pandemic and the associated layoffs. Long lines are at food banks around the country, and they cannot keep up with the demand. The next coronavirus relief bill will have to include more food aid as we cannot allow hunger to weaken our population, especially during a pandemic. School nutrition programs must be supported so every needy child will get three meals daily.
As King said in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day.”
The COVID-19 Populations Needs Assessment, published by Ohio State University, showed inequalities are causing many to lack resources that could help them through the pandemic. Their report can help guide Congress when crafting the new relief package to get everyone help including “ready access to masks and PPE, disinfecting/cleaning supplies, and other essential supplies,” and “grace periods for unpaid rent and utility bills.”
There is also lesser-known legislation to pass like the Suspend the Timeline not Parental Rights in a Public Health Crisis Act ( HR 7976). It’s important during this pandemic to give parents with kids in foster care more time to meet requirements so they can reunite their family. This extra time is necessary to prevent families from becoming forever separated because they could not meet the requirements due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Congress could easily pass this bill and help families.
Overseas, we must increase food aid. The UN World Food Program warns that 270 million people are at risk of starvation as the pandemic has escalated global hunger. Bread for the World warns: “An additional 168,000 children could die globally by 2022 due to hunger and malnutrition as a direct result of COVID.”
As King was a peacemaker, he would also urge a treaty in Yemen to end their civil war that has led to famine conditions. The Biden administration must immediately cut off U.S. military aid to the Saudi coalition fighting in Yemen. As president, Joe Biden must then press the warring parties to peace and increase food aid to save Yemenis from deadly malnutrition.
In the spirit of Martin Luther King, our leaders must be encouraged to do what’s best for the people, putting aside personal ambition. If our leaders succeed, we can come out of this pandemic and look to a brighter future.