In the January/February 2008 issue of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ‘s Technology Review magazine there is an article about Norman Borlaug and his battle to end world hunger. He is the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner that few people are aware of and yet over the continuing life of humanity, because of his work, billions of people have food to eat who otherwise would have starved. He is one of the most productive of the scientists who created the Green Revolution and yet I doubt that he is a billionaire, or that the billions of the people who literally owe him their lives would give him a single dollar. But, in pitiful contrast there are thousands of Hollywood celebrities that make more money than Borlaug and who get more praise than he does. But, and this is the pity, those celebrities entire public and semi-public-private careers are spent making bad examples of how to live decent lives.
What is wrong with our society when even the highest rated home produced movies are a whiny plea to Leave Britney Alone and The Landlord featuring another whiny plea, in that case for money. Those are funny, and I love them, but my plea is for a reasonably realistic perspective on real life and real rewards. It is a plea for those who actually do make our lives better or even possible, such as Borlaug. The media moguls will claim that they are forced to give the public what the public wants and what the public wants is pretty low. The moguls say that if they don’t deliver mindless sensational pap they will be driven out of business. Therefore, our concern must be how to raise the public standards of taste.
A quote at the end of the MIT article says, “If he’d killed someone instead of saving hundreds of millions of lives, then they’d have been interested.” This is no idle comment. Ted Kaczynski the author of The Unabomber Manifesto and a brilliant mathematician claims the reason he killed innocent people was to get the public to listen to him. That seems to be a recurrent theme because the Columbine massacre also seemed to have a similar motivation and that was a cry for recognition by people without a forum but with something they felt they had to say. The Internet offers us a hope that everyone can now be heard. However, even these anonymous Internet people must have a public of understanding, responsible and responding people to hear their message. So my suggestion on how to create a better society is, “Support the best in everyone you encounter and hold them accountable for what they do.”
Ted Kaczynski is in prison for murder.