On President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, grab a pen and paper or get to a computer. You can use what Lincoln called the “great invention of the world,” the art of writing.
Like Lincoln, you can write for peace. As Lincoln wrote in his second Inaugural address, we should “do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
One of the best ways to write for peace is by showing compassion for the world’s hungry. We should help everyone in need, even in countries we’ve had tragic and painful relations with, such as Afghanistan. As Lincoln wrote, “with malice toward none and charity for all.” Those famous words of Lincoln helped inspire hunger-relief drives after World War I and World War II.
A true peace can only happen by ensuring everyone’s right to basic food. You can write to Congress encouraging them to increase food assistance to nations on the brink of famine, including Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
A human rights class I spoke to at Mount St. Joseph University is trying to stop the tragedy of infants dying from malnutrition around the world. The students are writing letters asking Congress to support the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act. Passing this legislation can help expand our life-saving nutrition programs for infants worldwide.
The Mount students are also writing Congress about increasing funding for the McGovern-Dole global school lunch program to at least $300 million a year. The McGovern-Dole initiative provides school meals to children in impoverished countries. Charities such as CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children and the World Food Program provide the school lunches.
Imagine if every child in Afghanistan had access to school meals and take-home rations. It would help save the health of Afghan youth and families. Imagine if Burkina Faso, Mali, Ethiopia, Yemen and the D.R. Congo had national school lunch programs, it would reduce hunger and build peace.
There are so many ways you can write for peace, whether it’s fighting hunger, eliminating nuclear weapons, stopping climate change and many other social justice issues.
If you think your writing won’t make a difference, remember what happened to Lincoln with one of his works: the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln wrote the speech during the Civil War as he tried to bring the nation together to save the “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
When Lincoln read the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the National Soldiers’ Cemetery on Nov. 19, 1863, it was not given much attention. A longer, two-hour speech was considered the main event of the ceremony. Lincoln’s expectations were not that high either. As Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.”
Years later, the Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in history. Stay the course on your own writing, and it too can make a difference.
No country needs a letter for peace more than civil war-torn Yemen. You could write to President Joe Biden encouraging him to use diplomacy to end the war between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthi rebels.
Instead of increasing arms sales to Yemen, we must increase humanitarian aid as hunger threatens millions. The UN World Food Program is very low on funding and has been forced to reduce rations in Yemen. You can write to the president and Congress asking them to increase food aid to save Yemenis from starvation.
These are some ways you can celebrate President Lincoln’s birthday, following his example of using words for peace.
William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Newsweek, History News Network and many other outlets.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Use Lincoln as an inspiration to bring about awareness through letters