I have become a devoted listener of BBC Radio 4. Until recently, the subject matter of ‘talk radio’ used to induce compulsive yawning on my part. Yet, I now find myself purposefully tuning in on a Friday morning to hear a celebrity divulge their life-story on ‘Desert Island Discs’. Meanwhile, my evening meal preparation is simply incomplete without the company of the ‘Just a Minute’ line-up.
Despite my new-found interest in current affairs, I was rather angered by something I heard Andrew Marr say yesterday morning during ‘Start the Week‘. Commenting on Tony Blair’s recent statement that Africa is turning and moving ahead, Marr insinuated that Blair ‘was being too chirpy’ about the progress Africa is making. I could feel my blood begin to simmer as I shouted defensive retorts directly at the inanimate car radio. Why, oh why, is the media so seemingly intent on maintaining the idea that our world is in a dismal state of decline? It is my belief that perspectives such as Marr’s hinder the efforts of those who know the situation in places like Africa to be hopeful and improving. I realised that the hardest fight is not necessarily against poverty itself; the true fight is against the perception that we will never find a way to end it.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Mr Marr for his comment which was just the inspiration I needed to continue spreading the good news about progress in developing nations. What you do not often read in the newspapers is that life expectancy is increasing, more children are surviving today than ever before and governments around the world are doing their bit to make commitments that will benefit the world’s poorest. That is why I am making it my mission to talk about the positive steps we are making, the progress that is evident and the way in which entire communities are changing.
I am not naive. I know that it is certainly not all roses and we still have a long way to go to ensure that one billion people do not go to bed hungry every night. I am also aware that the stories in the media have the ability to induce sympathy and if this is channelled effectively it too can produce positive results. The trouble is, if we only hear the bad news, we will likely be too despondent to do anything; our view becomes one-sided and our perspective is unbalanced. Personally, I truly believe we are not faced with an impossible task. Imagine a world in which your grandchildren only learn about extreme poverty as part of their history lessons. If this seems like an absurd dream, it is not. We have enough food to feed everyone, we are capable of encouraging our governments to keep their commitments to the world’s poorest and there are many ways in which each of us can play a part. The things we do might seem small, but it all counts.
From now on, I am making it my mission to maintain a balanced perspective on the issues surrounding extreme poverty, through the things I write, say, learn and do. We little comprehend the extent to which the world we perceive is formed by what we are ‘fed’ through the media. It is important to stay up-to-date with current affairs but it is equally important to be aware of current global issues. However subtle, there is a difference. And perhaps I will even sacrifice the odd Friday morning with Kirsty to learn about things that really matter.