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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Doing Your Duty

While I don’t speak much about it, poverty is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. While the day will never come when there are no poor (at least before the second coming of Christ) that does not excuse any of us from doing what is right.

That said; allow me to present a situation to you.

You are in a restaurant and hear bit of a commotion at the door. Looking over you see the greeter/manager/maitre-d telling an obviously homeless man to leave since he is not a paying customer. It is freezing cold outside. This individual is unkempt and dirty. This individual is moving rather slowly and protesting that he just needs to warm up for a bit, and could he please have just a few minutes?

Do you:

A- Do nothing?
B- Feel sorry for him?
C- Tell the manager to have a heart and let the guy warm up?
D- Tel the manager that he is your guest and he will be dining with you, then bring him to your table and let him order some food at your expense?

The correct answer is D. The unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of people will only do A or B, while nearly all of the rest stop at C. For some reason, even the most tender-hearted among us tend to be unwilling to engage in fellowship with the truly destitute.

I despise every form of Socialism and Communism. However, I believe deeply in personal charity. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others . . . period.

It is sheer greed and heartlessness that stops us from caring for our fellow man the way we should. We have no excuse not to. Take me for example. I get $2,500 deposited in my bank account every month after taxes. This does not include my wife’s paycheck or the money I am now paid to live off-base. What is it to me to spend $10 or $20 to feed someone who desperately needs it? I make over 200 times that amount every month. I make more than enough money to take care of my needs and most of my wants. I don’t even have to give anything up to bless some needy person with some food or warm clothing. Charity is just too easy.

For my Christian readers I want to remind you that Jesus Christ Himself commanded us to care for the poor, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to visit those in prison. Remember to do it, and to do it willingly and cheerfully. And while you’re at it don’t be afraid to make a friend out of who you are helping. Most of the truly needy need friends just as much as they need food, clothing, and shelter. Remember also that inhospitality is one of the crimes the people of Sodom and Gomorrah committed that caused God to rain fire and brimstone on those cities and lay waste to that area so thoroughly that it remains a desolate place to this day.

For everyone else I want to appeal to your sense of decency. I want to remind you that one day it could be you who is needy. I want to urge you do right by your fellow man.

This is not to say that we must give and give and give to the lazy and ungrateful. If you offer help and it is refused then you are relieved of your duty at that moment. If you help someone who then hurts or insults you for it, you are not bound to keep allowing that person to hurt or insult you. Your kindness is better spent elsewhere.

This said; forced governmental charity, like welfare, is a bad thing because the way it is set up it enables the lazy and ungrateful to live well at the expense of the rest of us. It also removes us from the deep personal sacrifice and face-to-face attachment, and even the chance to witness to the needy. I say let those of us with a heart for the poor do the work to care for them. I say encourage EVERYONE to do their own part.

This is right.

Do your duty.

32 Comments:

  • Couldn't have said it better myself, Daniel.

    By Blogger Daisy, at 2:14 PM  

  • About 15 years ago, we took our neice Jenny to NYC for a graduation present and did the town for a day. South Street Seaport, Manhattan shopping, and of course, the Intrepid Museum.

    During the course of our 10 hours, we were in the Times Square Sbarro, a chain of inexpensive Italian restaurants. As we were overserved a large portion of spaghetti, I left about half of it on the plate, and was feeling guilty about wasting food.

    As we got up to leave, a homeless man politely asked if he could have the remainders.

    I told him, sure, pal, knock yourself out, and gave him a couple of bucks. He sat down with a smile.

    I don't know if he spent the money on booze or drugs, but I know he got a good meal I was going to leave.

    Our neice used the experience as a theme for her college application writing sample, and was told that the theme was the main reason she was accepted at Cornell (as her grades were rather plain in high school). She gradded Cum Laude from Cornell 4 years later and now works full time for their Veterinary Research Dept.

    This is a true story, and shows to me what goes around comes around.

    I won't give money to beggars on the street, but if someone wants food, and I can comply, I will so so.

    I do have a habit of surrepticiously picking up the tab (thru the waitress or manager) of any serviceman in uniform I see while dining out, as I'm just returning the kindness of strangers who did that for me when I was wearing the uniform.

    Inspiring story, Daniel. Thanks.
    Merry Christmas

    By Blogger Uranttilly, at 2:40 PM  

  • I might add that the local Appleby's (probably nationwide as well) does not charge any military personnel who are in uniform.

    A big hat tip HOOAH! to those fine folks.

    By Blogger Uranttilly, at 2:45 PM  

  • My wife and I both read your post here and we could not have said it better, well done.

    We have many times bought homeless people home to our house to shower, wash their clothes and feed them. My wife much more than me brings these people home.

    Believe it or not we have many homeless folks here in Malibu and my wife knows them all. If the weather is bad she will go find them, she's a great lady.

    She would kill me if she knew I was writing this.

    Merry Christmas.

    By Blogger Ranando, at 3:29 PM  

  • Malibu? Try Inglewood. Lots of homeless there, some dressed as buffoons.

    By Blogger Uranttilly, at 8:19 PM  

  • Is it okay if I disagree with 25% of your message and agree with the rest?

    Thank you for the great reminder of our call to sharing towards the down and out, especially at this time of the year where we celebrate the birth of the homeless God.

    On your comments about the "lazy poor" and the evils of communism (ie, welfare, in your mind), it occurred to me that perhaps part of the problem is that most people only "see" welfare when it's not working.

    That is, you see the welfare queen in her nice cadillac or the supposed welfare recipient who promptly spends their money on TVs and drugs.

    What you don't see is the +/-90% of welfare cases where it works. Where a mom is desparate for assistance so she doesn't end up on the streets and receives assistance, gets back on her feet, maybe going to school and then getting a job.

    You don't see that because it worked, fairly seamlessly in most cases. She is working. She is employed, paying taxes, taking care of her children just like you and me.

    But you don't see that, you see the small percentage where abuse may be happening and assume that represents the norm.

    It doesn't and maybe one day you'll see that.

    Thank you again for your timely message about grace and graciousness.

    Merry Christmas.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 6:36 AM  

  • Very good post and very good points. I haven't been confronted with such a situation, but if I ever should be I will certainly do "D"! Escpecially after reading this. I would hope that I would have done "D" without having read this... but now I'll never know for sure.

    Merry Christmas! :)

    By Blogger Gayle, at 7:03 AM  

  • I forgot. I was going to comment on Dan Trabue's comment: You are right Dan. The only people I have ever met who are on welfare have been scamming the Government.

    1. A woman who pretends to have a back problem recieves her monthly welfare check. She pushes her mother around in a wheelchair, up and down curbs, all over Belton without a problem. Back pain my butt!

    2. A teenager who receives her monthly check. She's 19. She won't consider looking for a job. There's absolutely nothing wrong with her.

    3. A woman who rented from me in Lawton, OK. She had one child after another and no husband. Six kids to be exact, each of which brought in money for her. Nothing wrong with her other than laziness. I kept the rent low because of the children's sake, not for her sake.

    4. Five people right here in the area where I live who are capable of working and collect welfare checks.

    So you are absolutely right. I do not see it where it works. I have never seen it where works. Why is that? I have known many people and most of them have refused to take welfare, being too proud to be a burden on society. They manage through hard work and self pride to find work of some sort or another that will see them through until they can find something better.

    I know a woman in her late seventies who has to use a walker, has eye problems, back problems, thyroid problems, and balance problems, but she refuses to take a welfare check. She works at the local Tax office.

    People who have pride do not take welfare.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 7:15 AM  

  • Very good point, Daniel.

    My story is this; every year before Thanksgiving and Christmas, a group from our church gives out food baskets to a few elderly people who live in subsidised housing. When I see how they live, I feel great about helping them. They are elderly and disabled, and their families don't usually help them. They have barely anything. This is in a little town near us. However, if we were to go to the much larger town that is nearby, I would undoubtedly feel different about helping. Nearly all the people who I have seen living in those housing projects are young, able-bodied men who sit around all day (most likely complaining that the Government doesn't give them enough.) That is why I have a problem with welfare.

    By Blogger Mary Ann, at 7:34 AM  

  • Well-written and well-needed ideas Daniel.

    And you have been tagged.

    Head to my blog.

    By Blogger Son of Lilith, at 8:00 AM  

  • "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me." - Jesus Christ

    Merry Christmas

    By Blogger Neo-Con Tastic, at 8:01 AM  

  • Daniel

    Good piece. My wife and I volunteer with the “Angel Food Ministries”. I encourage anyone, who know people that can use help with food, to contact a local chapter. Here’s their web site http://angelfoodministries.com/index.php

    Dan Trabue

    You simply can’t make up statistics and expect to be taken seriously. “ What you don't see is the +/-90% of welfare cases where it works.”

    I guess it depends on how you define “where it works”. I suppose if the mere act of giving assistance to those below the poverty level could be considered a success your stat might be accurate. Your example of the single mother (& people like her) is nowhere near 90% of actual welfare cases.

    By Blogger blamin, at 8:47 AM  

  • Miss Gayle, just because you do not see where it works does not indicate that it doesn't work. As I said, it's fairly seamless when it works. Folk don't go around saying, "HEY! I'm on welfare, but I've got a job lined up and hope to be off soon." We don't make "successful" welfare recipients wear a Scarlet W around their neck to indicate it so you'll know that your tax dollars are working.

    You are all doubtless compassionate people. I can (sometimes) read the kindness in your writings and don't doubt it in the least.

    So think of this, Miss Gayle, and all: Last night in the US, there were about 1.2 million children who did not have a home to call their own.

    They slept at their auntie's or in a stranger's house or at a shelter or even in somebody's broken down car or under a bridge.

    1.2 million! And that is WITH welfare benefits available to try to assist families such as this.

    What would that number jump to if welfare were ended today? How many millions of children would go to "bed" in a cardboard box?

    The fact is, welfare IS working to keep that number from being 5 million!

    There are doubtless hundreds of stories of mixed veracity detailing the schemes of welfare cheats. But anectdotal evidence is a poor substitute for facts, especially when we're talking about deciding policy.

    For instance, I can give you many anectdotal stories of corporations taking advantage of the system, costing more in fraud than the entire welfare system costs.

    Shall we dismantle capitalism based upon my anectdotal evidence?

    Or, shall we correct the problems, try to stop the cheats, but retain the system?

    Merry Christmas.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 8:59 AM  

  • "You simply can’t make up statistics and expect to be taken seriously."

    Fair enough. That (90%) was a guessed at figure. But the facts are not that far off.

    FACT: Less than half of the families that receive AFDC receive it for more than 36 months overall and most families receive aid for no more than two years at a time.

    Why do they receive it for only a short time and then not? Because it works for many folk.

    I'll say it again, just because you don't see it working, does not mean it isn't working. I'd ask that you not call for an end to welfare anymore until such time that you can document that it is NOT working. With 1.2 million homeless children, CHILDREN!, the need is fairly easy to document.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 9:40 AM  

  • daniel, this is a wonderful reminder for us all, all year!
    and, dan t, could you just accept something that's well-written, serious, & heartfelt, instead of baring your teeth & nitpicking immediately? (the democrats ARE supposed to be the peace-lovers, remember?)

    By Blogger Libby, at 10:19 AM  

  • I SAID I agreed with 75% of the content and thanked him for the reminder? Isn't that meeting ol' Dan'l halfway? Can't a fella pick a little?

    Oh, okay. Merry Christmas, all! Happy Holy Days! And more quotes from our second favorite Christmas story:

    "It is required of every man," the ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death."

    "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world!"

    "...and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 10:46 AM  

  • Dan T.

    You wrote “Why do they receive it for only a short time and then not? Because it works for many folk.”

    The reason it works is because of conservatism. It was the conservatives in this country that forced change to the welfare laws. It’s what some would call compassionate conservatism.

    The abuses to the welfare system and the entitlement mentality it created are well documented (I spent six years of my childhood living in a public housing complex). That’s why conservatives forced a change. We knew that creating generations of welfare recipients is not a kind way to treat our citizens. We knew that forcing some to go to school or find work would empower them to become self sufficient.

    The liberals screamed bloody murder, you couldn’t turn on the TV or radio or read a paper without seeing a hysterical, slathering liberal foreseeing the deaths and starvation of millions of poor.

    Dan, why do you suppose most democrats were against welfare reform? Very simply, by getting people off welfare, dem’s lost their ability to buy votes. By a large margin, self-sufficient people consider themselves conservative or hold conservative values.

    The conservatives and republicans were able to actually help the poor (where dems had failed for oh so long) and increase their voting base at the same time, and to think you libs believe you’re so much smarter than the average republican.

    BTW I don’t think anyone is calling for “the end of welfare”. Most conservatives realize there are some in our society that will always need help.

    By Blogger blamin, at 11:08 AM  

  • "External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty."

    "Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it."

    "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

    Ho! Ho! Ho!

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 11:58 AM  

  • Dan,

    Must you call people who don't approve of the way welfare is handled a bunch of scrooges?

    And what is miserly about getting rid of a self-defeating entitlement mentaliy?

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 12:45 PM  

  • Hold on...I was honestly just sharing some great Christmas Carol quotes here. No agenda (except Dickens')...I just love the words and notions that flow here.

    After Miss Libby criticized me for "baring my teeth & nitpicking immediately?", I was backing off and sharing some great Christmas sentiments and no denigration of anyone's character was intended.

    Perhaps I should have chosen another Christmas story? Sorry for any suspected aspersions.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 1:42 PM  

  • Oh. Considering the comment you were responding to I thought you were being subtle.

    In all fairness, I expected you to disagree with me on Welfare, we always do. But you would have been better served with some suportable statistics, or even some personal (firsthand) anecdotes regarding your experience with the welfare system. You invited the criticism you got when you overreached on your statistical assertions.

    Stay tuned for a story from within my extended family about the inequity and entitlement of Welfare. It is a firsthand experience. It will dilineate the difference between charity and welfare as well.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 2:16 PM  

  • Daniel,

    Great Post, you have people remembering what Christmas is all about.

    Well Done.

    By Blogger Ranando, at 4:59 PM  

  • Years ago I was standing waiting for a bus outside the Sands Casino in Las Vegas.

    A bum came up to me and said, "Hey can you spare a few dollars? My poor mother needs a cataract operation."

    I said:"If I give you $5 , whats gonna stop you from going into the casino and putting the money on a number on the roulette wheel?"

    The bum, with a straight face, said to me:

    "Oh, I got gamblin' money."

    By Blogger Uranttilly, at 8:05 AM  

  • Do you really want to feel the Christmas Spirit? Do you really want to remember Christ and do something that Christ would be proud of you for doing?

    Then get off you ass and go out a find a person or a family that has nothing, nothing. A person or family that could care less if you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just a nice Hello and take them to dinner tonight.

    That’s the Christmas Spirit.

    Merry Christmas!

    By Blogger Ranando, at 8:22 AM  

  • and you will never forget it and neither will they.

    Merry Christmas!

    By Blogger Ranando, at 8:23 AM  

  • Aaaaw... I see we have some really sweet bloggers. ;)

    Well, a couple of weeks ago, my church's kids' group went down with another SDA church to feed the homeless. I'd say about half were mentally ill or old and partly disabled. Frankly, this surprised me. (It also made me mad that families aren't allowed to help a mentally ill one, if they don't want to. Then again, maybe they had no family.)
    It was very nice to be able to just feed them.

    That said, I'd say about 1/2 of them were not mentally ill, but young and able-bodied.(None were starving, either.)
    Although most of them were polite and grateful, one woman really got under my skin. After taking the food we had made and were handing out, she asked if we had any coats to give out. At our regretful 'no', she replied "Ain't nobody wants to help you no more. Not even the Churches!"
    I repressed the urge to reply "You wanna put back the meal you just got?"

    Well, I don't really have a point there, only that it's very nice to help - though I think what we saw there was a textbook of welfare. While some really need it - some could just use a good dose of accountability.

    By Blogger Rebekah, at 9:23 AM  

  • Charity is something you should do because you want to do it, not because you want to be thanked for doing it.

    By Blogger Ranando, at 9:51 AM  

  • Uh... I didn't say otherwise, I just pointed out the problems with welfare.

    By Blogger Rebekah, at 11:37 AM  

  • That was not directed at you Rebekah, I was just making a general statement.

    Merry Christmas

    By Blogger Ranando, at 11:42 AM  

  • Okay - wasn't sure there.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    By Blogger Rebekah, at 1:27 PM  

  • Hey - Great post! I just stumbled across your blog and will be sure to check back. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!!

    By Blogger Ranting Republican, at 3:19 PM  

  • Merry Christmas, Daniel.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 6:57 AM  

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