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?
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.
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
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.