“Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, ‘Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?’” ~ Johnny Carr
The above quote serves as the writing prompt for this, the final assignment for Compassion Blog Month.
I think Mr. Carr misses the point.
Anyone who looks at poverty from the standpoint of either issue or opportunity misses the point. Poverty is an issue that can only be solved by opportunity. Pundits arguing about this or that measure of reform get lost in numbers; they no longer see the emaciated faces of starving children. Those who focus only on serving soup forget the maxim that a man may eat for a day if given a fish, but he will eat for a lifetime if taught how to catch one.
It is important for those who know and follow the Lord to care about the poor. We must hold whatever resources we have loosely, so that generosity comes naturally and without pain. We must give what we can, when we can. But if we look only at giving and not at all at solving, we only contribute to the problem. Giving a woman a coat when she has no heat in her home meets the immediate, not the long-term, need. We must address both.
Is there a solution to the problem of poverty? I believe there is, and I believe it starts by teaching people about their basic dignity and worth as human beings made by a loving, holy Creator. I believe that it comes with a loaf of bread and an invitation to a class on life skills. I believe that it is found in voices raised against the giants of corruption and oppression. I believe that it is found in granting jobs to those without the almighty bachelor’s degree.
Above all, I believe that it is found in the Gospel. Show someone that this is not all there is, that he is responsible to the Creator who made him, and there is a shift. Anyone who truly encounters the risen Savior and kneels to Him as Lord cannot continue on a path of oppression or of being oppressed. The one will look for opportunities to sink below. The other will look for opportunities to rise above. And they shall meet in the middle, where it can be truly said that all men are created equal.
Grace and peace along the way,
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