Posted by: bklunk | December 4, 2006

A Serious Question

Take some time to consider the dilemma poised here.

Ending World Hunger: Joke or Possibility

The other day I was watching al-Jazeera with my dad and my sister. A man was speaking about food security. I asked my dad who it was that was speaking. He said, “That’s the president of FAO; the Food and Agricultural Organization. I thought to myself now wait a minute this could be interesting. He was being interviewed by a British journalist. The British journalist than asked him “the question.” “Why have you, after all of these years, failed to end world hunger?” Then my sister started laughing as if she had just heard the most ridiculous statement of her life. In fact she said, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? What an idiot. “End world hunger” she said mockingly. “What kind of stupid question is that?” A few monthes ago I probably would have been laughing right along with her but this time I found myself annoyed. Not so much sad, but annoyed. I thought to myself “what are you talking about of course it is possible?” I had watched CNN coverage about food security, learned about the G8 summit and learned indeed how it was possible to end world hunger, but because of those who reject the idea as being absurd the question is never posed. With all these rebuttles in my head I refrained from commenting. Why? I wanted to avoid an argument or a fight. I thought to myself “whatever it’s not important enough to argue about.” But that is precisely the problem today isn’t it. People would do anything to avoid controversy and starting trouble or creating destabilization and that is why nothing ever gets done.

But without me having to say anything my dad immediately responded. “What’s wrong with that question. It is very legitimate. If you would just listen the president of FAO is taking the question seriously and giving a response. He is on the offense you can see, which shows two things. It is possible to end world hunger and there is something stopping FAO or something FAO has done wrong that has not enabled them to end world hunger.” I was happy with his response. Number one, I did not have to say anything and therefore, avoided confrontation with someone whose power equals my own. Number two, someone who has greater power was able to wield his power to get a point across and at the same time control the situation so that there is no room for confrontation. How did my sister respond? She was a little embarrased and so brushed off his statements. She did not outwardly acknowledge that she was in some sense wrong or that she had learned something new for pride.

Upon reflecting on the situation I was able to draw some connections here to the political community. First, those in power or global actors refrain from bringing important questions to the table for fear of destabilization. Two, nations are sometimes scared to share their opinions for fear of starting a fight with someone where there is no clear distincition of who has more power to control the situation. Three, this leads one to the conclusion that it is up to the actor with the most power to control and act on controversial discussions or else no one else will or all the voices won’t be heard.

Also, I took not of the way she instinctivelt responded to the question of ending world hunger as some kind of joke. She is not to blame. This is what pop culture in a successful nation has taught us. How many times have you seen a movie where some brainless pagent girl suggests that ending world hunger is what she wants to see happen in the future. This is the stereotype this is the joke. Even though ending world hunger is possiblity people refuse to believe it out of pride, ignorance, or just because of a fear of believing something so new and so contradictory to what pop culture has been feeding them since childhood. This is a big problem. But why does pop culture portray hunger as a laughable matter?

I recently endured a discussion recently. The topic of debate was human rights and if one country (the one with the power and resources to do something) has the responsibility to insure rights are faithfully executed around the world and to improve living standards where it is most needed. Many people posed the argument that a nation needs to consider themselves before others first and that if we interfere in one area who is to say when we can’t interfere in others. There was also the argument that it impossible to solve all the problems in the world. That there simply aren’t enough resources. When I tried to falsify their supporting information they turned on me as if I were the enemy. As if I were saying something so outrageous as if I were making a personal attack on their well-being. Their arguments were legitimate. My point was to allow them to consider the idea that possibility should never be eliminated. Once that happens we are basically giving up on human kind and that does no one any good.

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