A video of Susan Boyle singing “I Dreamed a Dream” on a UK talent show has ripped across the internet like a bolt of lightning and turned her into an overnight phenom. What does that have to do with hunger? Nancy Roman explains.
ROME - The case of middle-aged church volunteer Susan Boyle and her video on Youtube illustrates beautifully the power of the internet to effect change. Boyle had wanted to sing on stage since she was 12, but was never given the chance. Take a look at the video and you can pretty quickly posit why.
The dowdy dress and close cropped hair don’t necessarily make Boyle someone to look at. But her voice, as it turns out, suffices to carry the show. Since Susan performed last week on Britain’s Got Talent 2009, some 20 million people and counting have viewed the video.
Ten years ago – even five, before we had the bandwidth to watch live video – this woman would never have broken through. The record companies and talent scouts who have passed over her these last four decades would have been determinative. But Simon Cowell’s democratic approach to music -- à la American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent – coupled with the power of the internet, are rocketing Susan to stardom.
The Susan Boyle of the policy world
So what does this have to do with hunger? Hunger is the Susan Boyle of the policy world. And while I am reluctant to think of it (or Susan for that matter) as frumpy, certainly the issue is less known than it should be. It gets pushed off the stage by sexier issues like climate change; or peace in the Middle East.
Because it doesn’t break through, people don’t get the chance to learn that for lack of 25 US cents per day per child, entire generations are falling short of their physical and mental potential. They don’t understand that hunger is sowing seeds of civil unrest. They don’t get the opportunity to learn what’s at stake when we let one billion people go hungry, day after day.
Surpass the superstructure
The internet gives you the power to surpass the superstructure that tells you who’s beautiful enough to listen to or which world issues matter enough to tackle. I appeal to you to take up that challenge.
So even if leaders from the Washington to Warsaw favour defense budgets over hunger and malnutrition, you can social network right past them and share with thousands of people through Twitter and Facebook the raw power of feeding a child.
We at wfp.org aim to give you the grist, the tools, the wherewithal to not only tell people about hunger, but to illustrate why it matters and what you can do about it.
Please help us.