Can Spirituality solve World Problems?
Question: Can spirituality solve the real problems of the world like starvation?
Answer: Why not?
Let’s analyze the root cause and the real solution of starvation.
Self-restraint: Many, if not most, of the people who starve today would be able to earn sufficiently to feed themselves and their families if only they were not addicted to self-destructive indulgences. So their starvation problem cannot be sustainably solved without freeing them from their addictions. How can they be freed from their addictions? The exhaustively-researched Oxford publication, entitled Handbook of Religion and Health, documents that adopting religious principles helps addicts to free themselves and also that the religiously committed are less likely to succumb to bad habits.
Compassion: The world is plagued not by a shortage of food, but by a shortage of compassion. Hundreds of tons of food is either thrown into the ocean or allowed to rot in the warehouses due to the vested interests of the powers-that-be. Frances Moore Lappé points out in her well-researched book on African famines, Food First, that the famines were caused or worsened because much of the best land was being misused for production of cash export crops.
How can we increase compassion and decrease greed among people? By imparting them a spiritual vision of life. When a wealthy person is God-conscious, his compassion is not restricted to an occasional act of charity; rather his whole life becomes dedicated to helping the deprived in every possible way – materially and spiritually. When the head of state is spiritually enlightened, he cares for all the citizens like his own children – not due to political expediency, but due to spiritual love. He creates the necessary socio-economic structures to provide proper gainful employment for all of them in normal situations and adequate relief during emergencies.
Henry David Thoreau pointed out, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at its root.” Striking at the root of starvation means promoting spiritual well being both among the have-nots so that they don’t dissipate their scarce resources in self-destructive indulgences and among the haves so that they don’t squander their abundant resources in revelry.
The easiest and best way of promoting spiritual well being is by empowering people to understand and experience the inner satisfaction that comes from studying philosophical masterpieces like the Bhagavad-gita and by chanting the holy names of God like the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Thus propagation of pure spiritual education and culture, as is done by ISKCON, strikes at the root cause of all suffering, thus addressing pressing social problems like starvation.