Since the start of the recent humanitarian trend (thanks, Bono), there’s been a split in philosophies in methods of helping people out
of their money. The church-going folk claim it is their own responsibility to aid the less fortunate, and the non-churchy people saying we should give that control to the government.
And then there’s the libertarians, who seem to claim we should do neither. There’s not really much we can do about them.
But to those who fall into one of the two other groups, I say, why can’t we do both? There’s nothing exclusive about humanitarian work, and neither has the sole right to helping people.
In fact, not only can both government and church (or non-profits) have a role in helping the less fortunate, but both are actually necessary.
Hold on, let me explain myself. Put down the pitchforks please.
To those who wish the government would stay out of their affairs and let the church take care of it. Though it’s a great thing that churches are willing to host food pantries and shelters, (and it is a great thing, something few other private organizations have the resources and backing to do) but these types of things only treat the symptoms of the problems. They don’t fix the problem itself. Only an institution as powerful as the government is powerful enough to keep the homeless off the street for good by creating more jobs. A church’s food pantry can feed people and give them shelter, but giving them a job would keep them fed and off the street for good.
The major problem I see with giving the government more money and more control is governments are corrupt by nature. Thus any programs created probably won’t be as potent as we all hope they will. This is where the church comes in. Obviously, any government program won’t be 100% effective in reaching people. The church should be there to fill in the cracks so to speak. And the church should be there to call out the government when it is corrupt (though the church needs to get over its own corruption). The church also needs to be the warm community that reaches out to people in emotional discomfort in ways hospitals and institutions cannot.
And I realize the church has been one of the greatest sources of pain and oppression for many cultures throughout history. There’s no denying the damage it has caused to humanity. But at the same time, it has been at the forefront of humanitarian aid along with the government. The church has come to the aid of those affected by Hurricane Katrina and those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
But so has the government and our military. And combined, there’s still more work to do.
So, what I propose is this. Those who are anti-government, get involved in helping your community through the church. Be creative and offer the use of your unique skill set freely and without the red tape of government getting in the way. Those who want the government to aid the poor, spend your time and talents lobbying to get programs set up to fix the structural problems of our society that allow people to slip through the cracks. There’s a lot of work to do here, and we need all hands on deck.
If you want an example of different parts of the body of Christ having different functions, here it is. The government is the brain that takes control of the situation and comes up with ways to fix problems. The church is the heart that reaches out to those still in need and treats the symptoms while others are working for those programs to be adopted and take effect.
If we just bicker and fight, then we essentially just accept the status quo, and in the body of Christ, we’re all the bowels.
And I know I’m a hypocrite for saying all of this. I can be as selfish and lazy as an ass can be. But in being an ass, my college degree is also in journalism. Someday, I hope to have a degree that will give me the education to directly help those in need, but for now, I know there are hundreds of people out there more creative than me to figure out how to treat these problems in your own way. And when you need people to do whatever grunt work necessary to make your dreams of making this world a better place into a reality, I’ll be the first to raise my hand to volunteer.
And don’t tell me the government won’t leave you enough of your own resources to help people. I make $25,000 a year, I donate to charities on a monthly basis and I am living comfortably. There are many out there who have more opportunity than I do, and like I said, we all need to do our part here.
If someone else has written something like this, it wouldn’t surprise me. It seems too simple a solution to all this bickering I see for someone else to not have come up with it already.
Please stop fighting each other and let’s work together on this. If we can’t work together, do your own thing separately and keep moving forward. There is a hurting world that doesn’t have time to wait for us to resolve our squabbles.