Whose Responsible For the Disadvantaged? Church, Charity or Government?

Here is the question; why should I help some poor bum who sits at home all day drinking cheap wine or shooting himself up with crack and gets monthly benefits from various government programs?  Next question: Why should I share of my resources with someone who was stupid enough to live next to a river, over a fault line, on the coast or in a part of the country prone to tornadoes?  Final question:  Why should I feel it is my responsibility to act as a social worker, psychologist, lawyer, nurse or chauffeur for someone I don’t know, am not related to or have nothing in common with?

These three questions form the basis of why we are seeing a crisis in the care-giving community.  More and more people are taking the “hands off” approach to sharing as a direct result of problems in their own lives.  The sad reality of this quiz is that if there is no good reason to do any of the above; other than if private citizens don’t do these things, the responsibility will be transferred to various levels of government which will entail raising taxes to pay for more services.

Let there be no mistake about this; the vast majority of Americans would rather walk naked down main street eating cockroaches than personally get involved helping someone they don’t know or are related to.  Yet, these same people will without hesitation write a check to a major charity to provide help for these people.  What is the deal here?  Why is it so repulsive to think of personally helping another yet it is so fulfilling to “write a check”?

Look at this way, if a bum approached you on the street; which would you rather him say: “Got a dollar you can spare” or “Can I come work for you in return for a hot meal”?  Of course 99% of all people would prefer the request for the dollar.  No one wants to say no to a person trying to do the right thing, but no one wants a stranger coming to his house and stealing him blind, killing his kids and burning his house down either.   As much as no one really wants to give a dollar to a stranger, it is much easier to do than face the possible scenarios of dragging a bum home.

My wife and I watched an old episode of “Leave It To Beaver” the other night.  The storyline was simply one of a lost cat who kept being fed by Beaver and even after being taken home to its owner, would escape and come right back.  The moral of the story was that if you put food out for a cat, it will keep coming back to get fed.  The same moral would be true of helping those who are downtrodden and downcast. 

Far too many programs are set up to simply provide a bowl of food for people.  Of course it is appreciated, but what is really being accomplished?  Pavlov proved many years ago that dogs and people are conditioned to respond a certain way.  Put the bowl of food out at the same place at the same time every day and the dog or cat will become a permanent guest within a few days.  The unfortunate reality of many charity and most government programs is that it amounts to setting a bowl of food on the porch daily.

Simply writing a check to the Red Cross or having money payroll deducted for the United Way sounds good, but does the person have a clue where the money is going or whether it is helping anyone?  Yet, by “giving” this way, the personal responsibility is removed from having to actually get involved with other’s lives.  Refusing to help “the bums” who won’t work sounds noble, but if taxes are being paid, the person is “helping” anyway through massive governmental welfare programs.

Studies indicate there is a huge number of very angry people in this country who detest the idea of providing any help to the downtrodden.  Most of these angry people are white men who can’t stand the idea of any of their money helping some lazy black or Mexican man.  I appreciate this sentiment, but it does not make it right.  First of all it is extremely prejudicial and racial in tone.  Second of all it is incredibly short-sighted and narrow minded in scope. And finally it flies in the face of the attitude of charity this country was built on and which has allowed it to survive and prosper through the years.

These same people who self-righteously proclaim their resistance to helping others because of the color of their skin or nationality will gladly offer help to one of their “good buddies” or their families.  They will go to church and offer to fix the roof on the building or donate lumber for a Sunday School room addition.  In their minds, this giving is allowable for it is helping the church.  But, the idea of giving to help a poor person is “anathema” to them.

Here is the truth in all this.  If the church would crawl out of its hallowed walled chambers and get involved helping people in their community; there would be no need for expensive government programs and no need for all the humanitarian charities to be begging for money all the time.  If the church started offering programs to help the disadvantaged learn skills and receive tutoring in basic elements of surviving then these people could learn to stand on their own feet and not need others to help them all the time.

But no, the church is too busy buying new pews and putting new carpet down to worry about helping the bum down the street.  The church is too busy hosting wedding receptions, baby showers, 50th anniversary celebrations, funerals and teas to spend a lousy dime to keep the kids down the street from dying of malnutrition.  The church is too busy locking its doors all but a few hours a week rather than have someone there to counsel and help a person facing a life changing crisis.

Somehow many churches think all they are there for is to provide a place for people to show up to on Sunday mornings.  These types of churches have totally missed the point of their very existence.  The church is there to help people.  Sure, part of that help is spiritual feeding through services and programs, but help is much more than a sermon once a week.  Genuine help involves getting involved with a person’s life to the point needs can be established and then met. 

For those who are far too angry to help anyone get out of the mess their life has become; I ask you to pause and think about who is going to help YOU when the world caves in around you?  I know you say it never will, but sooner or later everyone will have to face the day in their lives when the music ends and friends depart, when death of a loved one causes pain too hard to bear and disease saps the once strong body of all life and energy.  Sooner or later everyone faces the day of reckoning in their lives when all they once took pride in fades and all that once made them so arrogant melts before their eyes.

Who is going to help you then I ask of you who are too proud to help another now?  When you are old and crippled and can’t even clean yourself up after soiling your diaper, who is going to want to care for that “nasty old codger” who would never give a dime to help all those “lazy bums”.  What goes around, comes around and that is a fact.  For those too proud, arrogant of selfish to reach out to help others now, don’t be expecting anyone to help you later when you need it.


2 Responses to “Whose Responsible For the Disadvantaged? Church, Charity or Government?”

  1. 1 kathleen
    August 3, 2008 at 5:15 am

    you sound very angry with yourself, God, the church and others. Get off your soapbox and start living. This is not a rehersal. Life is for living, so live it to the full.

  2. 2 everet
    June 3, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    americans are spoiled people.they don`t want to give aid to the needy. i am a d.a.v.(no govt help), living thousands of $$ under poverty level,me,wife, child ,have need of financial aid . i served in korean war in a submarine squadron,have an 8 year honorable discharge, wife also is disabled & cant work (also no aid) we live in a humble 20X30 ft. house with a 26 year mtg. do the math. this country gives billions to everyone “except its own needy” ones who helped secure their freedoms. replys welcome. will provide proof to anyone who has a concern.thank you for opportunity to share our financial situation.

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