Rice for Peace
David H. Albert
In the mid-1950s, the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, learning of famine in the Chinese mainland, launched a “Feed Thine Enemy” campaign. Members and friends mailed thousands of little bags of rice to the White House with a tag quoting Scripture: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him.”
As far as anyone knew, for more than ten years, the campaign was an abject failure. The president did not acknowledge receipt of the bags publicly; certainly no rice was ever sent to China.
What nonviolent activists learned a decade later was that the campaign played a significant, perhaps even determining, role in preventing nuclear war.
Twice during that campaign, President Eisenhower met with the joint chiefs of staff to consider U.S. options in the conflict with China, which centered on two islands, Quemoy and Matsu. On both occasions, the joint chiefs recommended the use of nuclear weapons.
Each time, President Eisenhower turned to his aide and asked how many little bags of rice had come in. When told they numbered in the tens of thousands, Eisenhower told the generals that, as long as so many Americans were expressing active interest in having the U.S. feed the Chinese, he certainly wasn’t going to consider using nuclear weapons against them.
David H. Albert
Reprinted from “From People Power Applying Nonviolence Theory,” in New Society
David Albert is an author, magazine columnist and speaker. He is the editor of books on storytelling, The Healing Heart-Families and The Healing Heart-Communities, as well as several books on home schooling. He writes two regular columns: “MY Word!” In Home Education Magazine and “What Really Matters” in Life Learning, Magazine.
He can be reached through his web site at www.skylarksings.com.