What should we – individually and collectively – be doing differently about hunger issues in our community?
We all know that the primary victims of poverty are women and children. The unfortunate truth is that we all spend too much time trying to figure out who is at fault and placing blame; and not enough time seeking answers to the problems. Surely, scripture tells us that “the poor will always be with us.” Was this statement made because Jesus realized that we will always be people who refuse to share? We see this selfish premise evidenced in our Presidential Election where two different men represent two very different ideals. One believes that we should share and help each other. The other believes that the wealthy are the privileged and should not be required to help anyone. To those who are ‘wealthy’, I say that God created everything in this world; which means that no one person (or group of persons) has the right to take more than he or she needs. When this is done, the bible calls it “hoarding” which is a sin. When a few people take more than they need, we have many who end up “without.” And, how do the wealthy justify taking more than they need? They simply use the old stale argument that, “the reason that we have people in need is because they are lazy and will not work.” My answer to this statement is: “Prove it. Prove that this is a generally true statement among all poor people in all time.”
Rather, I believe that the poor are victimized a second time by these types of untruths that, if repeated often enough and long enough, will become true in the public’s mind. If this statement is true then it releases all of us: church, government and individuals in society from our responsibility to help those in need. One of the most prevalent mandates in scripture is our requirement to help the poor. Jesus Himself said, “Inasmuch as you did not do it unto the least of these, you did not do it for me.” He was speaking of feeding the hungry and making other provision for them.
The shameful fact is that many who live in poverty are victims of political policy, lack of education and a capitalist society where generations of individuals are never able to climb out of poverty. And when one person by some miraculous act is able to do so, the rules of the game make it so difficult to stay up, that more often than not, they slide back down to the lower economic rung where they were before. These are often women and other minorities are the last hired and the first fired on jobs; and are the ones who typically must accept lower paying jobs in the service industry that do not pay a livable wage.
What should we do? The faith community must take the lead to end poverty and suffering in our communities. If we all do a little, then no one must do a lot. We must refocus our resources from internal building programs and creating comfort within the church and reach out to “get a little dirty” in our community by helping those who are suffering. The faith community does not operate by the same rules, policies and propaganda as society operates under. We therefore already fully equipped with all that we need to help the poor – our own limited resources, faith in God, and the determination to make a difference. All we need is TO DO IT!