Remembering Martin McLaughlin

By Lane Vanderslice

(December 2, 2007) It was with great sadness that we at the World Hunger Education Service learned of the death of Martin McLaughlin this week. For us, he was a long time colleague, friend, supporter of WHES, and, perhaps most of all, someone who embodied a great ideal of using the power of faith, analysis, and determination to fight for a world where poor and hungry people were more highly valued and treated.

Martin used his faith and his intellectual powers to illuminate why a very rich world could not function well enough to feed very hungry people. His life’s work, as we understand it, was best expressed in his book World Food Security: A Catholic View of Food Policy in the New Millennium.

The passage from the Bible that came my mind when reading his book several years ago was

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

Using Catholic social teaching, he analyzed the role of corporations and governments–some of the current powers and principalities–in the world food system and found their role destructive of human values. In the conclusion of his book, he wrote:

“Just as food security is a part of human security, the food system, which should produce that security, is a subset of the global economic system. The global economic system is supposed to serve the people. If it does not do that, people have the right–and indeed the duty–to change it, preferably in a peaceful manner. Specifically for the food and agriculture system, the emphasis must shift from a mode of production for unlimited profit to an emphasis on the small producer and the poor consumer. If that does not happen, the present situation of increasing food production and continuing hunger will continue indefinitely. To make systemic changes, it is necessary to understand the existing system and commit oneself to reorienting it toward the common good.

Martin, ave atque vale!

  • World Hunger Education
    P.O. Box 29015
    Washington, D.C. 20017
  • For the past 40 years, since its founding in 1976, the mission of World Hunger Education Service is to undertake programs, including Hunger Notes, that
    • Educate the general public and target groups about the extent and causes of hunger and malnutrition in the United States and the world
    • Advance comprehension which integrates ethical, religious, social, economic, political, and scientific perspectives on the world food problem
    • Facilitate communication and networking among those who are working for solutions
    • Promote individual and collective commitments to sustainable hunger solutions.