Friday, June 19, 2015

Can We Cure Poverty?

Of course the quick answer to this question is, "I don't know." The deeper answer is probably not, as Jesus himself told us that we will always have the poor (Mark 14:7).  Does that mean we shouldn't care for or help those with less (monetarily speaking)? No.  It doesn't get us off the hook of helping others, even if we can't cure it.  

What I do believe we're supposed to do is help with the needs placed before us, and more than that: do no harm.  Just like a physician taking the Hippocratic oath, we have the ability to do harm when we help people.  I recently attended the first in a series of classes on poverty.  (Here's a preview.)  In the first episode they brought up many concerns about how our charity often hurts more than it helps.  How can giving hurt someone?  By taking away their motivation to care for themselves.  We've all heard the old adage: 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. 

The poor man has been given many fish and no longer even wants to think about learning to fish. He's content to let you keep giving him fish because it makes you feel good.  The focus of the class was on harm that is done when we continue to give and give without thought for the future of the person we're giving to.  There are times when our giving is needed (ie. natural disasters, etc.), and there are times when we are all in need of assistance.  But, by and large, I don't think we should continue to just give without investing in a specific plan and holding the recipients accountable.

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I'm not proposing a cure for poverty, but I do believe that people are where they are because of how they think.  If they can continue to take and take and take and not have to show any growth or accountability, that is a recipe for...well, nothing good.

I would encourage you to look into this issue more.  One of my favorite quotes from the lesson was this:
Instead of training job seekers, let's train job makers.

One last thought on this: even though we cannot cure all poverty, it does matter to make a difference to one person, and another person, and another.  Each person has unique and intrinsic value simply because they are created in the image of God.  They are a human and they have worth.

Do check it out.  The organization is called PovertyCure.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this controversial and emotional topic.  Please comment below--and keep it respectful.  Thanks for stopping by.


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