If poverty is the absence of things, then the solution is to provide them. This often leads to the outside becoming the development “Santa Claus” bringing all good things: food, well drilling, education, and proclamation. The poor are seen as passive recipients, incomplete human beings we make complete and whole through our largesse.What are your thoughts? Is there a right way to help? What is it?
This unwitting attitude has two very negative consequences. First, this attitude demeans and devalues the poor. Our view of them, which quickly becomes their view of themselves, is that they are defective and inadequate. We do not treat them as human beings made in the image of God. We act as if God’s gifts were given to us and none to the poor. This attitude increases their poverty and tempts us to play god in the lives of the poor.
Second, our attitude about ourselves can become messianic. We are tempted to believe that we are the deliverers of the poor, that we make their lives complete. We can inadvertently harbor a belief that we are the ones who save. Such an attitude is not good for our souls.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
My friend Cindy Harris sent me this convicting quote from the great book Walking with the Poor by Bryant L. Myers.