Today is also World Hunger Day.
What better occasion to post a document on the end of starvation by Werner Erhard, that has contributed endless insights to me since I first read it in 1979.
It’s also the document’s Fiftieth Anniversary (1977).
This is one of two sources for the context of a world that works for everyone (the other being an event around that time by that name). So it has special significance for me.
I’ve never read a clearer discussion of why and how the world doesn’t work and what we can do about it. I’ve also never read a more empowering statement of the case for what we call the lightworker.
Werner would never have dreamed that what we call lightworkers might one day become philanthropists.
The standards that he set fifty years ago – primarily for integrity – remain out in front of me, perhaps of us. They were high ones to reach.
We post here only the first chapter, with a link to the entire document. It’s well worth reading for all humanitarian philanthropists.
The Hunger Project Source Document:
The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come
by Werner Erhard, 1977
You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference – to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have had some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work.
When you look at making the world work, you are confronted by, and cannot pass over, the fact that each year 15 million of us die as a consequence of starvation. This unparalleled failure for humanity enables us to see that the world’s unworkability is located in the very condition in which we live our lives. Thus, it is not people “out there” who are starving; people are starving “here” – in the space in which you and I live. You and I are working to make our lives work in the same condition that results in hunger and starvation.
Starvation both maintains and dramatizes a world that does not work. Persisting throughout history, it has accounted for more deaths and suffering than all epidemics, wars, and natural disasters combined. During the past five years alone, more people have died as a consequence of starvation than from all the wars, revolutions, and murders of the past 150 years. As you read this, 28 people are dying in our world each minute as a consequence of hunger, three-quarters of them children.
The bare statistics are so shocking that we rarely examine the further impact of starvation on our own lives. Hunger, by its persistence, seems to invalidate that our lives could matter. It seems to prove that we are capable only of gestures. It suppresses the space in which each of us lives.
Yet, precisely because the impact of starvation on our lives is so great, its existence is actually an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get beyond merely defending what we have, beyond the futility of self-interest, beyond the hopelessness of clinging to opinions and making gestures.
In fact, in experiencing the truth underlying hunger, one comes to realize that the ordinarily unnoticed laws that determine the persistence of hunger on this planet are precisely the laws that keep the world from working. And the principles of the end of hunger and starvation in the world are the very principles necessary to make the world work.
So this paper is not an explanation, a solution, an opinion, or a point of view about the problem of hunger. It is an examination of what is so about the persistence of hunger, aimed at answering two questions:
1. What are the laws governing and determining the persistence of hunger on our planet? Not the reasons, however cogent; not the justifications, however comforting; not the systems of explanation, however consistent or clever. If we were merely looking for reasons to explain the persistence of hunger and starvation, we could logically deduce them from the facts.
Fundamental laws and principles, however, cannot be deduced. One knows them by creating them from nothing, out of one’s Self. One does not arrive at fundamental laws and principles as a function of what is already known. Such laws and principles do not merely explain; they illuminate. They do not merely add to what we know; they create a new space in which knowing can occur. The test of whether we are dealing with fundamental laws and principles, or with mere reasons and explanations, is whether there is a shift from controversy, frustration, and gesturing, to mastery, motion, and completion.
2. What are the principles of the end of hunger and starvation on the planet? Not new programs of solution, no matter how saleable or clever; not different or better opinions, no matter how arguable; not points of view, no matter how agreeable. This discussion is not about another good idea. It is about revealing the fundamental principles of the end of hunger and starvation on our planet.
(The rest of the document can be read at http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html.)