This is Dan Brown. He’s a student like you studying neuroscience at the University of Windsor. You’ll likely remember him from his inspired tweets when he was our online intern this past January. He wanted to share with you why he thinks optimism – and new ways of spreading hope – are the most powerful tools we have in the fight against hunger.
“There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life:” This quotation from the WFP.org FAQ page is the most capacitating thing I’ve learned about world hunger. There is in fact no food shortage, but a problem with getting it to the hungry. Hunger is the number one health risk on the planet. This is it - the single most solvable global issue. People will stand up for something both when we can take no more, and when the end result is tangible. This result is tangible, and the change begins with awareness. This isn't just a change in the amount of effort and attention, but the way that effort and attention are concentrated – a new way of thinking: a game-changer.
There are many who resist change; who believe things are as they should remain, and that we can’t help those who won’t help themselves. “Why so idealistic, Dan?” they ask. The end of hunger is not idealistic, it is possible. Apathy kills, debilitates, and immobilizes, and it’s relentless optimism that keeps us moving forward.
Everything is happening now. However, nobody feels driven all the time. Learn to be prepared for motivation when it comes, and harness it in the most productive way you can. My advice is this: have the strength to know that during every part of your day; there are still those who go to bed hungry. Don’t think of this as reason for pity. Hungry and helpless are not one in the same. Those who are hungry feel more than just sadness or hopelessness. They feel outraged, motivated, wronged, and willful, pessimistic and optimistic - just like the rest of the world.
We are the generation of social media, and we are the internet. Just like our generation, the full potential of the internet has not been reached. It exists in a human space between political borders. Internet has proven to be a game-changer in the way hope is spread, but there is no change in the power of human hope itself.
For example, the upcoming film The Hunger Games has foundations in entertainment as well as social commentary. It’s a gritty story with a background of a privileged social class who neglects the rest of the nation – many of whom are fighting hunger. The tributes in the Hunger Games arena fight for their lives while the rest watch a live feed. WFP recently teamed up with Feeding America and The Hunger Games to raise awareness about hunger worldwide. While fictional, linking The Hunger Games with WFP and Feeding America can really change how people think, causing social action to flourish. Shifting consciousness is a hunger game-changer.
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Written by Dan Brown, WFP Online Intern for January 2012