Fight the Power: Website Arms Activists With Facts

Fight the Power: Website Arms Activists With

Consider the following facts: More grain is used to feed
livestock than people in this country. One in eight women will
develop breast cancer in their lifetime, a threefold increase over
the last 50 years. Up to one-fifth of America’s food goes to waste
each year, and roughly 49 million people could be fed by those lost
resources — more than twice the number of people in the world who
die of starvation each year. Oh, and Abraham Lincoln never really
cared about the slaves.

If you’re either intrigued or outraged by the above, consider
browsing the hundreds of facts on the Public Education
(PEN) web site. PEN, an independent,
non-profit research organization based in Berkeley, CA, is a
fountain of information on domestic and global inequities,
including those in education, ecology, health, employment, criminal
justice and national defense. The organization is fueled by the
belief that the ills of the world — famine, disease, violence and
pollution — continue not for lack of food, medicine, peaceful
interests or scientific know-how, but for a lack of public
knowledge and understanding.

To that end, the website traffics in a minimalist presentation of
the truth, rather than in unwieldy analysis or persuasion. Outside
of the linked source located beneath each fact, there is little
context or spin provided. The currency here is information, a
godsend for those out there who feel drawn to rebellion, but are
fuzzy on the facts.

And consistent with their goal of getting the message out,
PEN does not limit itself to the web site alone. Perhaps
most demonstrative of its desire to reach the public, PEN
actually projects statistics onto city buildings. They also post
information in public areas, appear in local periodicals and host
speakers and discussion forums.

Underlying all this work is an implicit belief in the ability of
people to change, once they are armed with information. The
question is not are we ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in our beliefs, but have
we been exposed enough to what is around us? The goal of PEN
is simply to get the word out. ‘We believe information, presented
nakedly,’ they write, ‘is the surest way to help citizens vote,
buy, and live conscientiously.’
Go there>>

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