When times are tough, it is tempting to blame the poor for their poverty. It is tempting to blame the uninsured for their lack of wisdom and foresight. It is tempting, and it is attractive, because that way, we don’t have to take any responsibility.
Yet, as a community of faith, it isn’t that easy. We can’t shrug it all off, because compassion for the poor was one of the hallmarks of our Lord’s life. In fact, compassion for the poor is an underlying principle of the whole Bible message.
Some will say, “Yes but, our Lord said the poor will be with you always. So, is it really our concern?”
That kind of thinking only reveals a lack of Bible knowledge, for the passage our Lord was quoting, in Deuteronomy 15:11, says, “Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
This is God’s command. So instead of blaming the poor for their lot, we need to look for ways to help them improve their situation.
Welfare and unemployment insurance are part of the short-term answer, but they are not enough for the long run. What we need is more jobs, real jobs.
We need to stop wasting the willing labor of those who really want to work. Instead of laying people off to fatten the bottom line, we need to create new markets and new industries to employ the skills and abilities of people who really want to make a contribution.
In the coming decade, this must be priority one. All this, though, is going to take time.
So, until those in need are on their feet, we still need to be openhanded toward our brothers and sisters and toward the poor and needy in our land. Especially in this day of government cutbacks, we, in the Christian community, must double our efforts to provide aid for the poor.
I urge you to support the churches and the charities in our community that are doing something to help the poor among us. Help them make it through the day, but don’t stop there. Do what you can to make job creation priority one in the coming decade.