Charity and Poverty

Yesterday I read this article by Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, who was one of my heroes growing up. He says that our definitions of poverty are not necessarily the right ones, when we evaluate whether someone needs our donations. Some folks are happier never knowing that they don’t have an iPod.

Then this morning I watched a preview for a movie called Machine Gun Preacher, which looks fascinating and uplifting and very sad and tragic, all at the same time. It’s about someone who saw the need to do something, and went and did it. Was it the right thing to do? Who can really know?

The question of whether charity perpetuates poverty has long troubled me. And, even if it does, that wouldn’t alleviate our human responsibility to help our fellow creatures who are miserable.

Folks who think that these issues are simple ones, that “we are the ones to make a brighter day, so let’s start giving”, and write a check and think no more about it, have apparently watched too many 5-minute summaries on Fox News. At the other extreme are those who know that their five dollar check isn’t really going to do anything, and so don’t do anything. Some days I’m not entirely sure where I fall on that continuum.