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Do We Care?

May 26, 2012

A long, long time ago, before government burdened itself with handing out entitlements, people cared for those in their community.  It didn’t always go well.  There weren’t as many poor as today, and certainly in urban settings those who didn’t go to church suffered disproportionately.  Still, people and the church reached out when the need was apparent.

In my hometown, there was a merchant association that made sure our bums were taken care of (we didn’t call them homeless back then, and by “taken care of” I mean fed and clothed).  Our churches made sure all local children ate and had clothes.  They weren’t great clothes; we always knew who the poor kids were and none of them were frightfully skinny.

Our schools (yes, public schools) would hold charity drives for supplies, clothes, food.  The money came from the people, not the government.  And yes, there was a stigma to being poor.  We knew which kids had disabled parents and which had drunks for fathers.  They lived in sad little houses.  At least five were classmates and friends.  All but one are still friends on Facebook.  That one died in a robbery (she was working, not stealing).  The other three are doing better than I am; one owns his own business that still does well and the other two work at hospitals.

My parents gave at the charity drives, we saved change to give to the needy.  Mom staffed a free health drive and knew the poor families’ names.  Amidst our busy lives, we cared.

Today, many church-goers still care; my kids volunteer and take care of handicapped children, do projects to fund emergency pregnancy centers, and we try to give to those needing handouts when we pass them.

But does the average unchurched American still care?  Sure, they say poverty is a problem and that government should do something about it, but is that caring?  Where is the skin in the game?

Today, communication is better than ever.  If government pulled back, I like to think through superior comm channels, needs would get out there better than when I was a kid.  We see Internet ads for clean water charities, specific health charities and more.  Word can get out and rather than giving taxes to fund everyone, what if individuals funded the needs they felt passionate about?  (I need to bring up a local charity run by a Christian who doesn’t care how AIDS was contracted, she helps any AIDS patient with food, care and clothes.  The idea that those with “unpopular” problems brought on by sin would go unfunded is in error.)

Second caveat: I’ve called for the government to get out of research, but if so, who will find the cure for AIDS?  How about the groups giving millions to Obama for giving his approval for gay marriages (money does grease our politicians, doesn’t it? Romney will be no better that way) fund private research?  There are people with a passion for anything and everything.

What amazing satisfaction comes from choosing our charities and volunteering our time?  It’s time forAmericato care with action again.  Individually.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Debi Walter permalink
    May 26, 2012 10:14 pm

    Excellent post, Rob, as usual. I love hearing how your life growing up has impacted your life today; simple, yet profound.

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