Why should we help the poor you might ask? Isn’t the government doing that for me, don’t they take care of everyone’s problems? Let me ask you, do you think the government is? Are there less people today that are poor than there were 50 years ago? I can say with a resounding “no,” our poverty rate today is about 16% and 1965 it was about 14%. Why have we failed the poor? I personally think it is for a combination of reasons: 1) We are enabling the “capable poor” by providing them with free money, i.e. incentives to not work 2) We are not meeting the poor where they are, i.e. why are they poor? What is the main issue that is making them poor and how can we help 3) We consistently throw money at the problem.
What can we do as citizens? Well again, personally I believe it was never the government’s job to babysit and take care of people as it does. By doing this the government restricts our freedom when they play a “Papa role” (but I won’t get into that right now). I believe it was our job as human beings to help each other, I believe it was our charity that should sustain the poor (however, our charity seems to have faltered in the last few decades). I believe if we regained our respect and responsibility for one another there would be less poor because instead of throwing money at them, we would be helping them were they are. But probably that will never happen again, not in this country, at least not for a long time. In the meantime, we can still do what we can to help and not enable.
How can we help? There are after school volunteer programs for children who needing a helping hand, someone to talk to, and help with their homework, which will allow for them to make better choices in life. It will allow for these children to break the cycle of poverty, understanding and getting the help early on to change the course and direction of their future to live a productive life. There are also programs that non profits run that are looking for donations of clothes, furniture, food, cars, etc. There are hundreds of programs apart from the government that need our support, which really do meet the poor where they are and help rather than hinder.
Another question you might ask is why should we help the poor in other countries? Don’t we have enough problems here? Yes perhaps, we do have many problems here. But tell me this: do our children live in gutters, on streets, do they shine shoes, are they forced to become a part of militant armies, are they starving to death? Oh, perhaps you might be able to find children here and there that this is happening to here. The difference in the United States is that when this is discovered we are outraged and we arrest the people responsible or put the children in safe homes (or at least as safe as we believe them to be). While, I may believe our stance to poverty is incorrect, I do believe that in most respects we do care. Whereas in other countries people do not care for one another, either because they have no capacity to care or they too impoverished themselves to spare very much help to others.
So again, why should we care about the poor in other countries? Tell me: If you were so impoverished you could barely feed yourself or your children and you lived in an unsafe area (yet there were no safe areas to move to even if you could afford it), and your child was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Wouldn’t you want to move heaven and earth to find your child? Or what if your child was starving. Wouldn’t you want the food that would be the simple solution to your child’s problem? Wouldn’t you do anything for your child? What if you couldn’t? What if there was no help? Yet you knew there were people in other parts of the world living in luxury with a car, food in their house, medical care, and even a house to sleep in. Would you not feel sad and hurt that no one would help you, when a few dollars would literally spare their life? Yet we flippantly go to Starbucks everyday, with not a thought to the thousands, the millions that cannot even afford a loaf of bread? We scoff at the poor in other countries, thinking, “surely it is their fault.” Really? We have sunk so low that we think that since we were born into luxury that we are superior to those that were born to poverty and have no way out. No fancy education that could save them, no food stamps that could feed them, and certainly no soup kitchen down the street. There is literally no way out that could save them, no government program, NOTHING. We were born to luxury whether we believe that or not; just because you do not have as much as a Hollywood celebrity does not mean you in any way are poor. You or I could have been born to a different situation in life, one that meant poverty and starvation, and you better hope that someone would have been so kind to offer you help when we are ourselves offer so little help when we have so much. With great power comes great responsibility. And we have the power to help. And one day we will be held responsible for our lack of care or charity.