In a stunning announcement, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that hunger has been totally eliminated in the United States — or at least redefined. Announcing that “hunger” is a non-scientific term, the USDA has redefined this condition as a condition of “very low food security,” which should be great news for the 35 million Americans who previously thought they were going hungry during the year.
But it gets even better. For those of you who might think “very low food security” isn’t abstract enough, the USDA has further defined “very low food security” as “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” My goodness, if the United Nations adopted the same definitions, we could eliminate hunger worldwide with the stroke of a pen! Whatever would Bob Geldorf and Bono do?
Does languaging matter? Is this more than simple bureaucratic nonsense? Absolutely! Language does indeed matter.
It allows us to totally change our paradigms, such as defining:
* Health to mean control of disease symptoms with medication, rather than as a state where no medications are needed in the first place.
* A small reduction in the incidence of a few selected cancers, after years of staggering increases in the overall incidence of cancer as “winning the war on cancer.”
* Alternative health treatments for cancer that may cost $100 dollars a month as “fleecing the public,” whereas $100 billion a year on treatments that don’t work, or that work temporarily only to allow major side effects and complications to appear down the road as good science and well worth the money.
Yes, language matters.