Friday, January 13, 2006

A Response To My Brother On Ending Poverty

I love my brother and for the most he and I are very agreeable in political matters. We both tend to be libertarian leaning fiscal conservatives who believe in a classic federalist national identity. We are also very similar on moral issues. We both believe morality is a matter of the heart not of the legislature. So I was quite intrigued by his post Make Poverty History, which you must read before you continue.

My problem is that my brother, who is brilliant mind you and should know better, has used both a red herring and a straw man in articulating his feelings about this issue.

Let's look at the 2 true questions he asks in this post:

1. Is it the civic responsibilty of the "rich" to meet the needs of the "poor"

2. Is an unattainable goal worthy of pursuit.

So let me answer both of these questions in turn.

The red herring of his argument is to make this an issue of socialism. Any just person can see the inherrent evil found in much of the socialist ideology that past government systems have used to increase the wealth of the elite at the expense of the masses. However one can support personal involvement in the issue of poverty on a personal moral level with out supporting it on the scale of a global government.

I abhor the idea of government taking what I have earned by the work of my hands and giving it to one who has not worked. At the same time, I relish the idea of freely surrendering the blessings of my lifestyle, and making councious spending decisions so that I have more resources available to serve the under resourced God leads me to.

I have two children through Christian Relief Fund. In addition to giving at my church, I give a predetermined amount of my income to organizations that feed the poor in my local community. I have also determined to take steps that entail monetary decisions that will allow me to increase my giving both to children in 3rd world countries and to local food centers in time as I take care of some existing debt responsibilites.

All of this is because I believe it is my "moral" and therefore "civic" responsibilty to respond to those whose needs are absolute, and I believe this responsibilty is a direct result of my relationship with Christ.

Which brings us to the straw man of my brother's 2 points. This idea that a goal is chosen so that it might be attained violates not only the idea, but the direct command of scripture. Scripture commands us to "Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and strength." Scripture commands "Love your neighbor as yourself." Scripture admonishes us to "holiness."

I seek all these principles of scripture as "goals" and I know that none of them are attainable. Goals call us to greater degrees of refinement, they set the standard of our pursuit, and many like that of ending poverty serve only to inspire us to the ideal of our world.

In a fallen state mankind will never acheive holiness, total surrender, or mutual love; additionally poverty, sickness, homelessness, and malnutrition will always be hallmarks our fallen state as well. However it is our responsibilty to strive on toward these goals as we wait for the day when Christ returns to make all things new.

3 comments:

anne said...

I see the first problem with your brother's posting as starting with the statement that many bloggers have "cute" little End Poverty ribbons on their web sites. Feeling somewhat humiliated doesn't entice me to read further.

"I seek all these principles of scripture as "goals" and I know that none of them are attainable. Goals call us to greater degrees of refinement, they set the standard of our pursuit, and many like that of ending poverty serve only to inspire us to the ideal of our world." And there in summation is perhaps why some of us have those cute little banners. A reminder. An inspiration. A desire, a want, a purpose, a goal, a true and noble and so very right thing to strive for.

PatrickMead said...

Loved your self-description. It is very, very close to describing me, too. As for ending poverty -- Jesus said we would always have the poor with us, so global results may not be possible, but local, personal results are more than possible: they are attainable and delightful. Over give, over tip, over love. It doesn't change everything, but it changes something.

Randy said...

Here I sit feeling properly chastised by my little brotherfor being so hasty in writing my entry, I admit I agree wholeheartedly with you. Like you I believe that personal morality dictates assisting those who are in need and Erin and I do. God has blessed us immensenly and we share generously. My main stab was not intended to be at the good people who wish to help, but at the organized effort of the "Make Poverty History" website, which is socialistic in its goals. Had I known I would have to go head-to-head against my brother, I would have surrendered at the outset rather than face your cunning mind.:)

Love,

Randy