Norman Borlaug: A Great Role Model for the Power of One

I have heard many information assurance (IA) professionals, when they are feeling frustrated, angry, or whatever other negative feelings we all have at one time or another, say what they are doing is not making a difference, or say they feel they are looked down upon by others in their organization as a “necessary evil.” They often feel that one person cannot make a difference.

This feeling is not unique to IA professionals. Most professionals feel that their work and efforts are not making a difference at one time or another.
On Tuesday, Iowa native Norman Borlaug, 93, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for literally saving billions of people throughout the poorest parts of the world over the past 40 years.

“Iowa native Norman Borlaug was hailed as as “the man who fed the world” today as the scientist and humanitarian was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his work in staving off famine in the world’s poorest nations.
“He has long understood that one of the greatest threats to global progress is the torment of human hunger,” President Bush said in a ceremony at the U.S.
Capitol. Borlaug, 93, a native of Cresco, was presented with the highest civilian award given by the U.S. government.
“The most fitting tribute we can offer this good man is to renew ourselves to his life’s work and lead a second Green Revolution that feeds the world, and today we’ll make a pledge to do so,” Bush said.
The event before a crowd of about 350 in the sun-splashed Rotunda had a strong Iowa flavor to it, even including the U.S. Army Chorus singing “The Iowa Corn Song.”
Praise came for Borlaug from an array of politicians as well as Monkombu Swaminathan, the president of the National Academy of Sciences of India, who worked with Borlaug to help increase food production in India.
Borlaug, who grew up on a farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse in rural Iowa, developed so-called “miracle wheat” during two decades of work in Mexico.
The improved wheat resisted disease and tripled grain output.
As a result, when famine struck in Asia, millions of lives were saved and India and Pakistan eventually became self-sufficient in wheat production.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., quoted President Kennedy in saying in 1963: “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.”
That same year, Borlaug was working to bring his new breed of wheat to the world’s poor, she noted.
“No person, before or since, has done more to answer the call to help liberate the world from hunger,” said Pelosi. “As such, Dr. Borlaug is one of the greatest liberators the world has ever known.””

Many stories about Borlaug have been aired here in Iowa over the years, and his work really is amazing. He persevered through many people trying to tell him that his vision and ideas were not going to make any impact, and that global starvation of the poor was inevitable. He followed his beliefs and heart and made a great impact.
So, when you are feeling like everyone is against you, or that what you are doing is not going to make any difference in the scheme of things, look to Borlaug as a model. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t in the same profession; you are also trying to improve your community…by improving the security and privacy of information. Wouldn’t it be good to have even 1-millionth of the impact that he has had, and continues to have?
If you can protect the personally identifiable information (PII) and prevent identity theft for even one person, that is a good thing. If you can protect your organization, fellow co-workers, and business partners from making huge PII mistakes, that is a good thing. If you can thwart malicious attempts against your network or PII, that is a good thing. You will know it; even if you don’t get the Congressional Gold Medal you should still allow yourself to take some pride in your successes, no matter how big or small. We all need the motivation that comes from recognizing the good things that result from our efforts to get past the naysayers and downright mean-hearted people that we all sometimes encounter.

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