Monday, August 13, 2007

Tuna for Life: Feeding the Hungry


How do we best help the homeless? Is it really better to give than to receive in todays upside down world? Should the Judeo-Christian imperative to feed the hungry be taken as a personal responsibility, or should the government decide these moral matters for us? Today, in more and more cities, the normal human charitable impulse to give is being thwarted by those who would turn every individual kindness into a raging communal controversy. They would have us believe that “it takes a village” just to make a simple moral choice. But, should we abdicate to the government our individual moral choices? What kind of world do we give our children if every individual is programmed to believe that turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the plight of the poor is actually taking the “higher” moral ground?
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Last month the school children of New York City were discouraged from outdoor feeding of homeless people along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and in JFK Plaza. The city's new managing director, Loree Jones, showed up and told the group to move the program elsewhere. They were threatened with arrest if they proceeded to feed the hungry.
Why?
Opponents say that the practice of feeding the hungry may encourage the homeless to stay on the street, so it is better to feed them in shelters and other places where they can be directed toward mental-health help and other services they desperately need. Other opponents say that outdoor feeding can also attract panhandlers and petty criminals.
Yea right! Ask any social worker. Just how often are the promised services actually available when needed? And how many “eligibility” hoops will the hungry homeless poor have to jump through only to find out at the end of the line that “There’s nothing available today.”???
It’s sounds good but it’s just another way to rationalize the worst of human impulses to turn away from pain and suffering .

Fortunately the children won the July battle.
About 80 people gathered, as they have for more than a year and a half, as
about 30 students and parents handed out not only food, but also sneakers,
clothes, toothbrushes and soap.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, long an advocate for the homeless, came
along to make sure the city didn't disrupt the students.

"Well-intentioned and caring people should work this out," Blackwell said
of the controversy.

"I'm hoping this will quietly go away. You don't fight children trying to
feed the homeless."

In the end, Jones did not show up, and police did not approach the
students.


A few years ago, David Lunt, began his own personal initiative to feed the hungry . He calls it "Tuna for Life". It’s such a simple idea, and one that each of us can duplicate. David has a new Tuna for Life web page and , as someone who has followed his efforts for some time, I urge you to visit his page and send him your ideas and your encouragement.

By the way, I went back and reviewed a few Biblical verses in the Old and New Testaments. You know, I couldn’t find one instance where we individuals were told to first do background check before being willing to feed someone who is hungry.

When it comes to determining who the “worthy poor” is, well I think God had it right. It’s really not up to us individuals to judge.

My site was nominated for Best Political Blog!

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link to Tuna For Life. The site is just now getting up and running. There will be much more added to it soon. I think it is a great idea and I hope that more people start doing it!

    David

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  2. beautiful post...many of the homeless are mentally ill and or violent so no hun I would not encourage feeding them..what do u think?

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  3. My good friend Angel, thank you for your comment. Although I usually agree with you on most social issues, I have to disagree with you at least in part. Let me explain. I am looking at the question of how do we (you and I individually) best help the homeless from an individual moral perspective vs. the collective mentality. One of the hallmarks that distinguish the traditional conservative moral perspective from the leftist collective mentality is the concept of individual moral responsibility , individual accountability, and individual salvation. Many leftist Christians actually believe and teach that there is no such thing as individual salvation apart from the community. But what if the “community” is sorely lacking?

    Although it is very true that many of the homeless are mentally ill and or violent, and that ideally they would best be served by social programs that would serve their immediate needs, we know that many of the homeless will fall through the cracks, that many will not meet arbitrary “eligibility” standards, and that some will refuse offered help. The rest will often find that the utopian promise of food, a night’s shelter, or mental health care is non-existent. In other words, as Jesus said, “The poor will always be with us.”

    Conservatives, religious or not, recognize that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that our traditional moral response to the imperative “to feed the hungry” is a reflection of these Biblical truths. The poor have always been with us. The mentally ill and the violent have always been with us. Our Judeo-Christian tradition is pretty clear on this. We are simply told to feed the hungry. We are to do this as individuals as well as individuals working through our churches and our social institutions. One response does not preclude nor overrule the other. Nowhere in the Bible are we individuals told to set ourselves up as moral judges before we choose to feed the poor. As moral individuals we cannot turn our backs or pretend that the hungry homeless person standing with his hand outstretched in front of us will be better served if we just send him somewhere else. As individuals we are not expected to be omniscient. We won’t have any answers. All we may have is one opportunity to do the right thing at the right time.

    At the end of my life on that final judgment day when I meet my Maker and He asks, “I was hungry, did you feed me?”

    I don’t want to give this response. “Well I always paid my local, state, and federal taxes, and I donated regularly to several charities and I thought that should have taken care of it.”

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  4. I have some easy to follow recipes for Tuna Casserole... Will that help??

    Because that's all they'll get from me, I have tried to help the homeless in the past, I have tried to give them jobs and they didn't want work, they wanted hand outs, I have seen them housed and sheltered only to return to the street because that was the life they were most comfortable with...

    Sorry, I am NOT a good one to ask for anything more on the homeless, this is a VERY sensitive subject for me, and mostly because I worked the streets for too many years, and I saw too many that HAD the opportunity to better themselves and all they did was get a bigger shopping cart..

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  5. Sorry Barb I have to disagree. I do agree in the sense that the government has taken over tasks that used to be left to individual charities and the church. In a sense they have stolen our tithes.

    But homelessness is another consequence of liberal policy, called "deinstitutionalization," i.e. letting the mentally ill go free in the hopes that they would assimilate. I believe the real reasons for this policy were 1. a budget saving device for state governments and 2. a more subversive reason being to flood us with more social problems. Remember this latter was and remains a strategy of the left, named after the two Columbia University professors who dreamed it up, Cloward and Piven.

    Most homeless on the street today either need to be returned to the institutions where they belong, or are drunks and addicts who need to find their bottom. Feeding them won't help them in this regard. It simply enables them to continue what they were doing with fewer consequences.

    Regards,

    Jim

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  6. Great post! I have missed your work. Welcome back.

    When I was on a business trip a couple months ago, we drove into a store parking lot and there were two people, both holding signs, on different ends of the lot.

    One said, will work for food.

    The other said, give me money for food please.

    Can you guess who I helped and the underlying reason why?

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  7. Just an update, I have added some additional pages as well as a blog page to www.tunaforlife.org.

    I have enjoyed reading the above comments. As I expected, there is a pretty even mix of people who are willing to help and those who are unwilling. That of course is the beauty of Tuna For Life. If you don't want to help you don't have to. For those out there who feel compelled to help there fellow human beings, we offer a simple way to do it.

    I too have had some negative experiences with homeless people who only want money to buy booze or don't want to help themselves. But in every circumstance, the very next person is so thankful that the good outweighs the bad 1,000 fold. How can you compare possibly saving someone's life with the thought that you didn't give someone one dollars worth of tuna and maybe they didn't make it through the night? Also, by giving food you know your money will not go to booze or drugs.

    I am a big believer of the philosophy "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life." Unfortunately, as was pointed out above, many of the homeless are incapable or unwilling to learn the skills needed to have a job. But should we let them die of starvation just because of it?

    As Faultline USA said, when I meet my maker and he asks why I didn't feed him, I don't want to have to say because you were unwilling to help yourself.

    I challenge you to spend $2 on food and put it in your car. Try it one time! I bet you will be amazed at how it makes you feel. As for those of you with security concerns, I of course do not promote putting yourself into dangerous situations. All you have to do is stay in your car with your doors locked and roll your window down. If you are still concerned or feel unsafe, you can always just beep your horn and toss the food on the curb. They will still appreciate it!

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  8. The moral option of IGNORING the homeless is simply not an option for Christians, nor is blaming their circumstances on some structural problem caused by liberals an option (uh, that's what the Libs do, except hold capitalism to blame). Christian love requires doing something immediately for the suffering, and asking questions later. So yeah, give 'em a tuna sandwich. I carry granola bars in my car for that purpose. But DON'T give them cash--you will be HARMING them. You will also be harming them if you do not go further and make laws to get them off of the street. And further still if you do not support the private charitable faith-based initiatives to rehabilitate those who can be helped. There are a variety of programs that are working, and their model should be replicated more. Private associations, not the government is the key. Flexibility and specificity is crucial--and gov't just can't do that. Yes, teach them to fish, but you also have to address immediate needs. The impulse of Christian charity is personal and cannot be delegated to gov't.
    Dumb Ox

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  9. p.s. be fore-warned, many homeless will not like your tuna sandwich, or they will take it and throw it away. Having food on your stomach interferes with the absorption of alcohol (so they think anyway) that many of them are looking to obtain. The mentally ill and irredeemably addicted will never be eliminated or locked back up in institutions. It used to be taken for granted that village idiots and beggars were a part of the world. You should know that historically it was LIBERALS and "progressive" reformers who locked up beggars and people they defined as insane! The Libs ran those institutions of incarceration for about 300 years... now they have Academia, the Courts, the Media instead. Ha, ha.

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  10. Well Tuna for Life and Dumb Ox . . . You both get my point and have said it far better than I did. It took me hundreds of words to poorly convey the message!

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  11. Faultline USA, you wrote a beautiful article. I couldn't have worded it better myself!

    Dumb Ox, you made some great points!

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  13. I agree with Tuna for Life on the thought of "why not?" At worst, they will turn it down; at best they will get something to eat. And you are right dumb ox, as a Christian, I really don't have the opportunity to turn down helping anyone, nor should I judge, I do not know these individuals circumstances and it’s none of my business to know it. You can get non perishable items at the dollar store, keep them in your car and possibly give someone their one meal a day. Great idea!!! I for one will start this today.

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  14. A really good discussion on an important topic. I haven't heard much posting on the homeless/hungry lately. I can see both sides. Encouraging the homeless to congregate at one particular place by providing food there, could be a negative for the businesses/homeowners in the area.

    I do agree that the government has failed, but the system was set up to fail. It was set up not to get these people OUT of their situations, but only to try and sustain them IN their situations. That's a no win for everybody.

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  15. NorthGaConservativeWed Aug 15, 05:46:00 AM 2007

    First, hats off to someone for taking on something they believe in. Figure if we had a few more folks like that, just makes you wonder what the world would be like?

    Which leads me to my point. If we all just turn a blind eye to a problem, say it is not mine, say I dont agree, or I wont help someone who wont help themselves, where does that leave us? Did the problem go away? Or now does someone else get to fix it without the benefit of your input?

    Do we stop a program, or stop helping because of people who take advantage of a broken system? Insurance, Healthcare, Immigration, Retirement... all of these systems are broken and being taken advantage of but it doesnt mean you just stop caring and stop trying, or just because someone wants to politize it as truth and consequences has suggested. It means you step up, roll up your selves and help. In all ways.

    And finally a very wise man said to me "Walk a mile in another mans shoes" and an even wiser one said "Judge not lest you be judged". So while there are many who are addicts, many who are just lost, and even more who are mentally ill, what if that one can of tuna saved one persons life? What if they climbed out because someone stuck a hand down and said "I dont judge and here is help if you need it"

    The great thing about the truth, it can be seen. Addicts wont take it because it will interfere with their addictions, those taking advantage of the system wont take it because tune wont fund their new SUV's, but those that really need it, they will take it. So yall answered your own issues.

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  16. Northgaconservative, we agree with everything you just said. Great job!

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  17. Boy, the word is spreading. You've started something Faultline!

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