Wanted: The Opportunity to Become an Anti-Hunger Superhero
It is not easy to listen to your critics – actually listen to them – without dismissing their insights, especially when what they are saying doesn’t match what you see in the mirror. With absolute pride I state that Minister Malcolm X is the left side of my brain and Ras Bob Marley is the right side. Between those two men, and the metaphysics that I inherited from my parents, I’ve fashioned a worldview which inspires me to serve others.
Specifically, I can imagine America feeding ALL of its children. This is a vision. The fact that it appears impossible motivates me. I say to myself over and over again, “The 31 million children who are hungry in this country don’t feel that it is impossible. They are praying for someone to convince America to feed them.” The idea that I am attempting to do so is criticized as egotistical.
I don’t know what to do with said “perception.” Because I imitate Minister Malcolm X and articulate my values with definite of purpose, I am seen as more inflexible than my actions ever reveal. Those actions imitate Bob Marley. For all his fiery lyrics, when he entered politics, Marley organized the “One Love Peace Concert.”
I view myself as doing the same. I cannot stand injustice and search for ways to implement justice within the democratic process. How, then, is defending justice self-seeking attention? Malcolm considered such a sacrifice.
In 1968, two educators published a book entitled, “Teaching as a Subversive Activity.” Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner quoted the work of Adelbert Ames Jr., an engineer who built oddly-shaped rooms to study how the human mind “perceived” things.
Here is my summary of what they shared.
1) All “perception” is generated from within, through and by the human nervous system. Outside stimulation is observed and reacted to.
2) To deal with the experience of ever-changing Mother Nature, the mind creates things called memories. Memories are used to make meaning of present stimuli.
3) Perceptions are changed only when they no longer work to deal with Reality.
4) Because perception is such an individual activity (see number one), the goal of all social interaction is to see the world through another person’s eyes.
5) Language “shapes” our perception because we “think” in terms of words, seeking to categorize ever-active Mother Nature.
6) Perception generates behavior. (pg. 87-91)
Knowledge without application is useless. From my perspective, whenever I share child hunger facts, usually with some entertainment and passion, the person listening has never thought deeply about hunger-related issues. Their attention is focused for the moment. If they are dealing with hunger or poverty, they want to know how they can help. Otherwise, they do not see a direct connection to themselves and brush me off with a, “Yes, my church has a food bank that distributes food twice a month.”
My attempts to enlist that person into the effort fails, which is my goal.
The greatest challenge before me is how to build a team centered around the vision of addressing child hunger inside the United States. My personality overwhelms people. I’ve dealt with this my entire professional career.
I have learned very little from the jobs I’ve held because the managers did not care about me. Let me say that better, I did not “perceive” my managers caring about me. Their words came across as, “I need help fulfilling this grant. Sit in this meeting and do what I say.” The question of justice or changing the world rarely came up.
My experience had bonded me to Malcolm. When he relates his 8th grade teacher arguing that he didn’t possess the capacity to become a lawyer, I know that feeling. I’ve perceived every manager as Malcolm’s 8th grade teacher.
No wonder I cling to the opening lines of Bob Marley’s “Zimbabwe”: “Every man’s got a right to decide his own destiny / And in this judgment there is no partiality!”
On more than one occasion I have flopped behind a desk and asked deep within my psyche, “I wish MY Honorable Elijah Muhammad would show up and facilitate an opportunity for me to self-actualize.”
I know that I am not the only one who feels absolutely rejected by the current system and wants to change the world in a meaningful way. Feeding children who this system has condemned to malnutrition is such an opportunity. The metaphysics my parents taught me state that because I resonate at such a vibration it will attract others who long to self-actualize by feeding children too.
If a team formed with the appropriate skills to help implement this vision, I would do what no manager ever did with me: show them love. I would view them like Malcolm viewed the citizens of Harlem, “Why, you look like gold!”
And, together, we can change the world. How? By choosing to become the answer to the prayers of the children.
Right now, Juneau’s Hari Dev Singh Khalsa and I are preparing to walk 1000 miles. The purpose of the “Walk for America’s Children” is to inspire average Americans to begin talking about child hunger. Why? Because if we talk about it, we will learn that 1 out of 4 children live in households that are struggling at, or below, the federal poverty rate. Once this is firmly established in people’s minds, we can begin looking at ANY one of the practical plans published on this blog over the last three years to address child hunger.
We can start with the Casserole Drive.
Next we can look at the Four Point Solution to Child Hunger.
A Facebook group has come up with yet another plan that uses national legislation.
I don’t see ego in the work I do. I see the opportunity to self-actualize by serving a very vulnerable population. I willingly raise my hand to sacrifice my time, talent and energy upon their behalf.
Will you choose to raise your hand too? In the eyes of the babies, you’ll be “perceived” as a superhero.