08 Jun Poverty Should Not Be A Competition
“We only help kids in other countries where they really need it.” he said to me with a shrug of the shoulder.
It was a man at a public event.
“If you want to know real poverty, go to Africa,” she said to me.
It was a woman who grew up in Africa, talking to me over a dinner of steak, seafood and fine wine.
“Why don’t you help people in our town?” she said to me, accusatory.
It was at an event in my hometown.
I would like to say that comments like these are few and far between, but unfortunately they’re not. When you work to help people (in any capacity), you’re going to hear some of these kinds of things.
And, to be honest, I get it. Perception is relative. If you lived in Africa where poverty is rampant, that’s your touchstone. If you’ve always lived within a few minutes of grocery stores in the U.S. and have never been to the rural areas of Appalachia where the nearest grocery store is 40 miles away and much of the roads are dirt, it’s hard to imagine that a crippling level of hunger and poverty exists in the United States.
But, here’s the thing: poverty shouldn’t be a competition. In a competition, there is usually a winner. And, with poverty, no one wins.
A child going to sleep at night on a dirty floor with a rumbling stomach because they haven’t eaten in two days is the same no matter where that child lives. Hunger is hunger even if there’s a McDonald’s 50 miles away or if there’s no food for hundreds of miles. No matter if a child is hungry in Africa or Appalachia, it’s still a child going to bed hungry because the poverty in their area is so high that it prevents them from having regular meals. If you don’t have access to the food, or a means to get to the food and buy it, it doesn’t make a difference.
#povertyis being told that you don’t have it as bad as those guys in some foreign country (by people who’ve never been to rural Appalachia).
— Jeremy O’Kelley (@JeremyOkelley) June 5, 2015
Poverty is poverty and hunger is hunger. Let’s stop trying to make it a competition and start trying to solve the problem. Because I, for one, am tired of little kids not having enough food to eat … no matter where they live.