We sat down with Bread for the World founder Rev. Art Simon to talk with him about his new book, “Silence Can Kill.”
BREAD: What prompted you to write “Silence Can Kill”?
ART: I wanted to make a clear, compelling case that charity is not enough to end hunger; so, government leadership and citizen action are essential. Our silence as citizens is killing people and diminishing life on a very large scale.
BREAD: What were some of the challenges you faced in writing the book?
ART: The big challenge was the crisis that exploded with the 2016 presidential election. That exposed how economic and racial inequalities are undermining our democracy, the same inequalities that underlie hunger and poverty. So, in the second half of the book, I propose a more inclusive economy –one that works for everybody.
BREAD: That requires hope. With so much going wrong, what makes you hopeful today?
ART: As a Christian, my hope is not anchored in the latest poll or the next election, but in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That sets me free to keep working for justice whether the momentary trends are good or bad.
BREAD: Rick Steves notes in his foreword to “Silence Can Kill” that your first book, “Bread for the World,” inspired many to use their citizenship to address the causes of hunger. The list of those who have endorsed “Silence Can Kill” is impressive. That should inspire others.
ART: I was gratified that the endorsements came from respected liberals and conservatives. That encourages me to think the book is on the right track. Ending hunger would be so humane and is so achievable that making it a national goal could bring us together across partisan lines and help us see how to deal with other injustices that currently tie us in knots.
BREAD: What would you like your readers to take away from this book?
ART: That ending hunger is not a stand-alone goal but deeply connected to racial, social and economic justice. I hope readers will have a better grasp of the crisis we face in our nation and the huge importance of speaking up to end hunger. The United States is the richest country in the world. That 40 million of us live in poverty, and an overlapping 40 million face food insecurity is a terrible inconsistency. Shameful. We need to bend the nation’s arc toward justice.
BREAD: What special words do you have for Bread for the World members as we work together to end hunger?
ART: Anchor your life in God’s grace. Pursue with all your heart the mercy and justice of God. And pray fervently that God’s will may be done here on earth. We do that in the Lord’s prayer but perhaps with little thought about its deep meaning.