I almost named this blog The Real Hunger Games. I’m so glad I didn’t.
When both of The Hunger Games movies were released, social justice organizations used the opportunity to draw parallels between the political state of affairs in the United States. I am probably in the minority but whenever I click on a new infographic or youtube video that addresses The Real Hunger Games, I get more irritated than motivated.
There’s no denying that inequality and poverty in America right now is appalling. The U.S. has the highest child poverty rate among developed countries in the world, second only to Romania. 1 in 5 children in poverty. There are over 1 million homeless people. People DO go to bed hungry (something I have experienced ). I was watching Carmen Guidi give a tour through our local “tent city” ,talking about a family with an 8 month old baby living there. He asks, “Is this America?” Yeah, it is. This staggering inequality in such a rich country is what makes people so outraged and incredulous.
Right now in Syria, 9 million people have been forced from their homes. That’s about half the population of the entire country. The WFP says they have provided relief to 3.8 million people and it’s not enough. In Southern Sudan, food security gains made over the last couple years have been completely undone by conflict that began in December. “Even before the recent fighting, which has displaced more than 352 000 people, an estimated 4.4 million people were already expected to be facing food insecurity in South Sudan in 2014. Of those, 830 000 were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. In Afghanistan, child malnutrition is worsening as the country struggles to have access to clean soil (and fields that aren’t minefields ) and water. 3 billion people live on $2 USD a day. TOTAL:. Not just their food budget.
15 million children die from hunger related causes every year. Did some of them live in the U.S. ? Yes, and there are absolutely parts of the U.S. that are more like 3rd world countries in respect to how disproportionately affected the people are there . Most of those 15 million weren’t in the U.S. ,though.
Put in perspective, it feels disingenuous to call our problems in the U.S. “The Real Hunger Games.” Thinking like a global citizen, all hunger & poverty is important and needs to be eradicated. I just feel it’s typical of American arrogance & privilege to make it sound like we have it just as bad as some in other parts of the world. For instance, the chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated 300,000+ resident’s water this past week is incredibly important and not enough people are paying real attention to it. It’s also important to recognize that over 1 billion people live in water poverty and their day to day life consists of not having clean drinking water.
I am not saying the standard, “Don’t complain. People have it much worse.” By all means, DO complain when inequality affects you and your country personally.When you live in a developed nation that boasts being a world leader, it’s inexcusable that anyone should suffer. Make no mistake, living in poverty in a developed nation is very much a struggle. Trying to survive in a capitalist society without money is hostile and unforgiving. Poverty can look different depending on where you are geographically but it is still harsh & unforgiving ,no matter where you are.
The personal is political. Standing up for rights to clean water & access to food is the only thing that’s going to keep corporations and the government from jeopardizing those rights. Thinking and acting locally can affect change on a larger scale globally,too. It’s ALL important. Everyone deserves to have access to clean water and food. We just can’t call the struggle here in most of America “real” while ignoring what the rest of the world is experiencing as something outside our scope of “real”. It’s just as real for them,too.