A NIGHT TO REMEMBER - The dramatic highlight of the Congress came on Wednesday evening with the special program on Feeding This Hungry World, and featuring a mock Funeral for Famine. This inspiring session was held in the University's stadium, and began at sundown.
Speakers spotlighted the positive ways in which a naturally-orientated vegetarian way of living could reverse the trend toward world hunger, and banish famine from the global scene.
In the top photo, the stage has been set, utilizing special lighting and sound equipment provided by the University, and over $25,000 worth of funerary items as "props", courtesy of a superbly co-operative local funeral director.
The Funeral For Famine service as such was quite brief. The text was as follows:
Introduction by Edythe Schechter; Pres., Society for Natural Living; Member, Board of Trustees, NAVS: "Friends, you know that all of us are very sad when we must go to a funeral. However, tonight all of us will be overjoyed to go to the Funeral For Famine. This is a symbolic mock funeral, dramatizing the fact that vegetarian living could eliminate hunger from this planet. In short: we would be burying Famine, not human beings."
Eulogy delivered by H. Jay Dinshah (photo 2): "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together, in the sight of God and all humanity, to pay our last respects to Famine. Now, it is not well to speak ill of the deceased. Yet, we cannot indulge in the hypocrisy of praise - however faint hearted - for this awful scourge of humanity.
"In whatever guise, by whatever name: - Hunger - Starvation - Famine has been with us, periodically stalking the Earth, from time immemorial.
"Yet it need not be so. Humanity today, in a time of crisis, stands at the crossroads. Shall we, through reverence for Life, and through vegetarianism, banish Famine once and for all time from the face of this planet? Or shall we continue to simply bury more of its innocent victims? You and I, by our actions - individually and collectively - shall decide.
" Let us resolve, then, to exercise both the wisdom and the compassion, to resolve to bury Famine, for good and all time.
"By the grace of God, and in the fullness of time, may this come to pass. Amen."
VEGETARIAN ECONOMICS (photo 3) - Prof. Daniel Hoffman, of the University of Indiana (Gary) was the first speaker of the evening. Excoriating the agri-business approach to food production and distribution, he urged decentralization, with vegetarians growing their own food in their own gardens. The "mourner" at far right is songstress Maria Illo.
(photo 4) another view of the funerary tableau during Dr. Hoffman's talk.
LOOK TO THE TREES (photo 5)- World-renowned conservationist and forestry expert Richard St. Barbe Baker - an 85-year-old lifetime vegetarian - outlines massive reforestation program necessary to keep the planet in a natural state of productivity for future survival. He also condemns the inherent wastefulness and destruction of natural resources, in raising animals for food. Note TV network cameras partly visible at right of photo.
GOODBYE TO FAMINE - The six pall bearers were all full-time volunteer Congress workers, with no particular acting experience. With the benefit of a single rehearsal session two days before, they delivered a creditable and virtually flawless performance.
In photo 6, Curtis Blank of Philadelphia, Leigh Elliot of Christchurch, England; Stan Cresta of Westville N.J. The University's sound truck for the P.A. system is seen behind the casket.
In photo 7, Randal Blank of Phila., Steve Letter (nearly hidden), Stan Spezia of Woodside N.Y. At right of picture is Gary Smith, of Bangor funeral directors Brookings & Smith. Gary was outstandingly helpful in playing his real-life role, and serving as technical advisor of the project.
PROPHECY - As the funeral cortege passes slowly out of view, Maria Illo sings of humanity turning to more natural, harmonious ways, and a beneficent Mother Nature freely bestowing her blessings upon all.
AFTER THE FUNERAL - Robert Pinkus, of the NAVS-Affiliated Metropolitan Vegetarian Assn. (W. Orange N.J.), speaks On Being My Brother's Keeper. (photo 9)
He drove home the direct responsibility of those of us in the more affluent nations to discontinue the enormously wasteful animal-rich diets, which altruistic action would free far more grain and other foods than would be necessary to provide an abundance of non-animal food for everyone.
Let's Lend A Hand, was Jay Dinsh's theme, as he called for continuing personal committment, beginning with a 1-day voluntary fast. All participants in teh fast would have their meal tickets punched as they left the stadium; the University had agreed to refund the food costs that would thereby be saved, and the proceeds from the missed meals would go to vegetarian famine-relief and food development efforts overseas.
Dr. Keki R. Sidhwa told of his experience as a natural hygeine practitioner with Fasting For Health. As his patients derived great benefit from pure-water fasts of many weeks at a time, it seemed reasonable to assume that normal healthy people could confidently miss a couple of meals without dropping dead of malnutrition! (photo 10)
About half of those present had their meal tickets punched; some others later donated equivalent amounts of money for the meals they would have missed.