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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On Enabling Poverty

Yesterday, I yelled at a bum. And I felt like a complete jerk. I was on the phone with customer service, trying to get an RMA for something I had to return, when the guy walks up to the bus stop on the university-side of the street (which they nearly never do) and asks the guy next to me to buy one of his ball caps.

I was looking for a sheet of paper to write down what the customer service rep was saying, when the guy started his spiel on me. I let him have it: "Sir, I'm on the phone, you're going to have to take that somewhere else." I think he muttered some curses and went off.

There I sat, realizing I wasn't practicing good Christian ethic, and feeling like a general scumbag. There that guy was, obviously trying to do some good. I mean, he went through the effort to find (or steal) those hats. He wasn't asking for a hand-out (per se). But I treated him just like dirt.

It occurred to me, as I was reading an article posted yesterday over at City Journal, titled "In the Heart of Freedom, in Chains" by Myron Magnet (thanks to Betsy's Page for alerting me to this), this poor black man might have given up trying to get a "real job." He probably felt like the white man was keeping him down. But that's just it. Too many black Americans feel that way, whether or not its the truth. Its a cop out, a way of living a lifestyle that's been glorified by popular culture.

Well, I refuse to keep any black man down. Its just not right. So what am I going to do next time one asks for for change, or tries to sell me a hot item?

I'll hand 'em a business card with the following on it, and repeat aloud, while maintaining good eye contact:

"I refuse to keep you down. By giving you something for nothing, I take away your dignity. You are an important, dignified person. You are valuable to society. You were created with a purpose. The only thing keeping you down is lost direction. You can succeed. I know it."

1 comment:

Juris Naturalist said...

There are a variety of impoverished individuals among us. My Aunt Louise says, poverty is a life without God. She's right of course.

Your solution sounds a bit trite, but only because it is formulaic. Jesus did not heal every sick person he met, employ all the beggars, or house all the homeless. He was homeless Himself. He only did what He saw His Father in heaven doing. There are no formulae. There is only obedience to the call.

That said, a charitable and generous life will often provide a bum a dollar.