3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?
5It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
Recently I have engaged in a spirited debate about the state of the poor in the United States. What I find intriguing is the number of people who concern themselves with this subject who themselves do not live in the United States. Of greater interest is the number of people living in places with higher poverty rates, less opportunity, etc., who choose to speak on this subject. Lately I have found myself in discussion on the matter with residents of Costa Rica. So, I did a little research on the matter and compared the two nations. You can read that comparison here.
I want to be clear that I support safety nets. I personally donate a lot of my time and money to worthy individuals on a regular basis. The question that no doubt immediately sprang to mind was, “What constitutes a ‘worthy individual’?” Very simply, that is a person who has come upon hard times, is trying to rectify the situation, is not perpetuating the problem intentionally, and for whom help will actually make a difference.
In other words, I don’t give money to bums and panhandlers. I don’t donate to crack heads. I don’t flush my money down the toilet trying to help those for which there is no real help. Many of the bleeding hearts who decry my way of thinking do these things, and I am going to talk about that momentarily. But before I do I want to post a graphic for you to consider.
One of the popular thoughts among leftists and liberals is that poverty in America is based on race. Because it is en vogue to use the word “war” to describe things one does not like, mainly for the visceral reaction to the word, we are accused of waging war on the poor. However, as this graphic shows, the poor are predominantly comprised of white people. So one must postulate that our society which is predominantly Caucasian, is waging a war on white people. When you actually say those words you realize how stupid they are.
So…are we actually helping the poor? You decide:
With all the money being spent, why are we not decreasing the number of people in poverty? Well, you can read more on that subject here. But I will explain it to you in simple words.
Many people who wish to help the poor, like my dear friends in Costa Rica, use their hearts rather than their heads to solve problems. So they wake up each day and bolster their sense of self worth by doing some good deed of which they are immensely proud. Then they go to bed each night facing the grim reality that they have tried to stop a river with a 5 gallon bucket, their efforts were fruitless, and they made no real difference whatsoever. Someone like me comes along and questions the bucket method…and they snap. They team up with other, like-minded individuals, and take out their frustration on the person questioning the method. Failing once again to apply their minds and determine a well known and understood fact. Wolves are not intimidated by sheep.
I know…I said “simple words”. Here is how the situation actually plays out. (Names have been changed to protect the easily offended)
Carlos wakes up one morning and turns on the news. He sits eating his oatmeal in his modest middle class home and he hears his favorite liberal morning show host decrying Wisconsin’s food stamp reform bill. He doesn’t live in Wisconsin, or even in the United States, but he nevertheless feels indignant. How dare those Yankees demand that people suckling from the public teat actually spend other people’s money on nutritious foods!
Carlos then gets in his modest car and drives to his modest job where he earns a modest pay. After parking he walks several blocks to the building he works in. Along the way he passes a homeless man sleeping on a sidewalk. He stops and pulls $10 (or the equivalent in his currency) out of his pocket and hands it to the man. After which he proceeds to work. His step is a little lighter, his smile a little brighter. He feels a socially appropriate sense of sorrow for the man’s condition, but at least he can smugly declare in his mind that he has just done more than half the population of the United States has done to help the poor. (He’s kind of obsessed with the United States for some reason).
The next day the same man is lying on the same sidewalk. For reasons inexplicable, Carlos’ $10 has not provided the man with permanent shelter, food, job skills, or in any other way materially changed his life. The man did in fact get a cheeseburger and a 6 pack of beer with the money, but somehow this has not altered the course of fate. Carlos is upset. He gets on Facebook and starts posting stories. Not about how the poor in HIS country are treated, but about a distant land in which what he thinks, says or does makes no difference whatsoever.
Then Carlos runs in to me…
I challenge Carlos to do what I have done. Have the courage of your convictions. Commit to personal involvement and directly change the lives of individuals. Do not simply drop a couple bucks in a kettle once a year as an anonymous donor and believe you have changed something.
On several occasions I have taken abused and battered women in to my home and let them stay there for as long as they needed to. Both as a single young man and as a married older man.
I have found people in desperate need of help, and I have helped them. Not by dropping $10 in the kettle or the offering plate. But by identifying the need for appliances and paying for them. By helping people stuck in financial troubles pay off their bills. Offering food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and a shoulder to lean on to the downtrodden and broken. Because when I speak, I mean what I say. And I actually DO the things other people talk about.
The system, whether it be in the United States or Costa Rica, is not designed to lift people out of poverty. Politicians measure power by the number of people whose lives they control. Every person dependent on the government for basic life necessities is another person in a politician’s pocket. So, they give you enough to survive, and not a dollar more.
They don’t want you to die, but they don’t want you to live either. They want you to trudge down to the welfare office every month. They want you to receive and spend food stamps. They want you in subsidized housing, on medical assistance, and dependent on them to raise your kids. That is universal. In every nation where elections are held this scenario plays out. In those nations where some warlord or dictator runs the show, the poor are of no interest or consequence. They are simply things to be exploited, raped, murdered, or otherwise victimized at someone else’s whim.
But do the bleeding hearts raise hell about the plight of the poor in Kenya, Bosnia, or any of the other shitholes on this planet? No. They’re too busy pointing the finger at the only nation on Earth taking an active interest in changing the shitholes in to places suitable for human habitation.
You subscribe to a failed model. You have been giving a man a fish for decades, perhaps even centuries. That same man shows up every morning for a new fish. I subscribe to the notion that if we teach that man to fish he will go on about his life. He will become self sufficient. He will begin to contribute to society rather than live off of it. For that I am considered to be part of some evil cabal, waging war on those of lower social status, opposite gender, and different ethnicity.
But the facts do not bear you out. The list of people whose lives in which I have directly and personally intervened is long. My conscience is clear. My works speak for themselves, and for me.
So I will politely ask Carlos to clean up the street he lives on before he worries about the street I live on. And change his own nation before he finds extra time to be worried about mine.