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What the World Needs Now

September 6, 2012

A Tribute to Hal David

We awoke one August day in Amman, Jordan to a phone call, informing us that Saddam Hussein had invaded the little neighboring country to the south, Kuwait. The United Nations reacted by voting to remove the Iraqi army from Kuwait by force. Saddam responded by arresting all American citizens in Iraq and busing them to military bases around Iraq and threatening to use these American men, women and children as human shields.

Hal David

Hal David provided the powerful lyrics to the 1965 hit, What the World Needs Now Is Love. The need for those lyrics to be fulfilled has not faded with the years.

In the end Saddam let them go. Meanwhile his elite guard looted Kuwait of its money in the banks, its Mercedes in the villas, and oil in its refineries; this historic robbery required months to complete. Then, when the last Kuwaiti villa had been plundered, the Iraqi elite drove home to Baghdad, while poor drafted Iraqi soldiers were ordered to hold their positions in Kuwait and fight to the death. It was an absurd order and the clock was ticking; the UN had imposed a January 15, 1991 deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

My family and I left Jordan the day after Christmas 1990 and we did not know if we would ever go back. When the Gulf War began on January 16, 1991 I was speaking at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Fresno.

I can’t remember how long I cried or if I had to pull the car over when I heard the oldies station play the song, “What the World Needs Now.” It broke me up pretty good.

“Lord, we don’t need another meadow; there are wheat fields and cornfields enough to grow.”

It seems a good prayer to me today as well. And love is still the only thing that there’s just too little of.

This week, lyricist Hal David died at the age of 91. He wrote the words to “What the World Needs Now.” [1]I would like to thank him for writing this song. I listened to the song again today, and just for the moment I was back in California in 1991 praying for love, not just for some, but for everyone.

[1] Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.

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