pizza and poverty

The other night I was having pizza with some friends and my stomach wasn’t really having the cheese.  I haven’t had basically any dairy products in the past 4 weeks and I wasn’t feeling one hundred percent, so I left a half-finished piece of pizza on my plate.

Then my friend Reinmark says to me, “There are hungry kids out there, you should finish that.”  

“You know what’s weird, back home we say ‘There are hungry kids in Africa, finish your food.’”

What an interesting conversation.  I know for a fact that there are hungry kids that live in my city, in fact a quarter of the population of Grand Rapids lives in poverty.  Why did we grow up hearing that the problem lives across the ocean from us? The reality is our neighbors are starving and we could probably bring that half-finished piece of pizza to them.  Are we outsourcing our hearts and helpfulness?  I think it’s easier for Americans to save face when it comes down to our societal problems and outright lie about them, but we are up front with our friends and administrations about smaller issues.  It seems to be the opposite here in Kenya.  An administrative assistant can be telling you for weeks that your id card will be ready tomorrow, but you’ll actually get it next month.  But when it comes down to societal problems my roommates have no problem telling me how corrupt Kenya is, or my friends will reprimand me for not eating my pizza because there are kids that don’t have food right around the corner.