mituns: (towers)
One of the more oft-quoted statements of Jesus is "the poor will always be with you". It comes in context of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus with an expensive perfume, and Judas complaining that it would have been better for the perfume to be sold and the proceeds given to the poor.

From this statement, I don't think it's overreaching to extrapolate from this that there will always be need; that no matter what we do, there is always someone who can use a helping hand. As Christians, we should always be ready and willing to help others out. Many people have tried to point out the difference between helping others through personal charity and being forced to through government compulsion, and it is a very valid point, but it really only scratches the surface.

The larger problem is that, particularly because there always be the poor among us, there is always a need for something. There are also different ideas about how to satisfy these needs.

For example, I happened to hear about this place in northern Idaho on the radio once, called Kinderhaven. I guess that up there, the situation was that if somebody was arrested and they had kids that needed to be cared for, the kids either ended up staying with the parent in lockup or they ended up sitting at juvenile hall until other arrangements could be made. Somebody decided that neither of these options were terribly good, and set up a licensed home where children - from birth up to mid-teens - could be brought until they could be taken care of by others. It's a great idea, and certainly fills a need. It is also a charity, and as such, depends on donations to continue this important work. I daresay, though, that it runs more efficiently than a government entity, and does more for the kids, the donors, and the staff than if it were just another government agency.

However, not everyone thinks like this. There is a young woman who runs one of the biggest databases of missing people in the US. She does this completely on her own and does a fantastic job with it. She also has an accompanying blog. One day she was commenting that many families of missing people - especially the families of kids - end up in pretty rough shape after someone goes missing: Among other things, many parents lose jobs (and healthcare) because they spend so much time away searching for their child. In any case, the tenor of the comments started out with, "Oh, it would be so nice if there were someone there to help them," to "The government ought to do something to help these people." A couple of the people there seemed to be taken aback when I said that it sounded like a wonderful charity idea, and I think I also mentioned that they could get started with it themselves.

What was striking was that with the people in the latter example, the idea that the government might take some more money from them was okay, but that it would be too difficult to do something privately. Of course, some of this comes from the idea - which is totally against what the Christian faith teaches - that the individual does not matter, and cannot do anything of consequence on one's own. In this mindset, the only way to effect change is doing so by using the overarching "structure" of government. In this way too, one never has to be the lone voice, the one fool in the wilderness.

However, the problem is, as I stated before, that there always is a need, whether it's a place for kids to go when their parents are in trouble, or if it's support to families of missing people, or creating a place for kids to get out of the house and play on rainy days. The structure of government - any government - is not such that it does very much effectively, and the more needs it tries to satisfy, the more poorly it satisfies all the others. The effect then, is not of the empowerment that comes from giving freely to charity, and people's lives being changed for the better because they recognize that love, but rather that those who pay for the government become slaves to it as its scope becomes greater, and those who receive its "benefit" learn to not only consider it an entitlement, but learn to hate those who support them.

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mituns

September 2013

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