With the death of Lady Jackson -- Barbara Ward -- the world has lost an eloquent evangelist for the hundreds of millions of poor and under-privileged who live in the developing world.
I first met Barbara during the Kennedy administration at a Hickory Hill seminar at which she held me and my fellow Cabinet officers spellbound for hours. From then until the time she died, through the force of her moral convictions, the strength of her economic arguments and the depth of he political insights, she exerted a profound and continuing influence on my thinking.
In the mid-1960s, when there was much passionate intensity about our relations with the post-Colonial world, she was a voice of cool reason who pointed out the enormous problems of poverty that afflicted the Third World nations, whether they were communist, Maoist, Army-led autocracies or just struggling democracies. "There can be no stability," she used to say, "until we have begun to deal with that poverty, and it would cost us so very little of our affluence to begin the job."
What always struck me about Barbara was her abiliti as a presenter and expositor, both in public speeches, where she could arouse large audiences of hardened politicians and in smaller gatherings, where she could hold one spellbound by her global vision and her personal insight.
She had lived in several countries of the Third World (for instance, Ghana and India), and this experience gave her a special knowledge of their problems. But what gave her judgments their exceptional quality was her compassion for the poor and for the powerful. She could feel pity, as most people can if they do not harden their hearts, for the poor peasant eking out a miserable existence on a handkerchief of bad soil, but she could also sympathize with those who bore the burdens of power -- the unhappy African leaders trying to create a new nation and a new government with a hundred or so high school graduates, few natural resources and no traditions of independence in the modern world. It is so easy to condemn those in power for their failures; it is so much more constructive to try to help them to be more successful.
This was Barbara's special ability: she could see that the new rulers of the new states needed new ideas to bring their people forward, and she was not wedded to the conventional "modernization" programs. She was one of the first people to talk to me about the capacity of the small farmer to be far more productive if only he could be given from outside some of the knowledge and tools to get started.
She was always deeply concerned about the consequences of the population explosion, and when I consulted her in my early days at the World Bank she urged me, against a lot of contrary advice, to speak publicly about the issue. But Barbara was also a Catholic and a mother, and she did not believe that a reduction in fertility rates could be achieved by propaganda and contraception alone. She believed that the will to have smaller families was a prerequisite, and that would only come with a decline in infant mortality. For this reason she campaigned for what has come to be known as basic needs, and especially for that simplest, but most rare, gift of nature -- a supply of pure, unpolluted water.
Barbara was always an evangelist, preaching the good news that the would could be made better if only men would collaborate for their mutual good -- as they did so notably during the Marshall Plan era, which she regarded as the high point of post-war political wisdom. She taught millions through her broadcasts, newspaper articles, speeches and books, and, in her later years, she headed an institute that she intended to carry on her work for intelligent managment of the resources of this earth.
I feel most privileged to have had the friendship of this remarkable woman, as well as her intellectual support and criticism, which I believe has been more influential on my thinking than that of any other person I have known.