Your thoughts please?

Should people put most of their volunteer efforts behind:

a. making poverty more comfortable for as many of the poor as possible. providing food and necessities and such. volunteering in soup kitchens, cooking for the poor, working at a free care clinic, teaching them basic survival skills, etc.
b. trying to lift people out of poverty. much more time intensive and can only work 1 on 1 with one or two people at a time. teaching them advanced skills, helping them job hunt, helping them in any way possible to immigrate out of poverty and into the middle class.

Which is the more biblical and practical response that one should focus on? Scripture says the poor will always be among us so does that mean we should just accept that and focus more on option a? Or should we fight to move people out of poverty instead?

Your thoughts? Which poor skills are more important- skills to get out of poverty or skills to endure poverty?

EDIT: I'm asking the question here because its relevant to ask people interested in poor skills which poor skill they find more valuable- how to get out of poverty or how to endure poverty more comfortably.
  • Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
My thought is that this is really a religion discussion question, and that it doesn't belong in this forum.
Not that I'm a theologian, because I'm not, but it strikes me that neither is "more important", that they're very different but equally important and valid efforts. Which ever of them more appeals to and fits the skill set of a particular person is the one they should work on- someone with a lifetime of experience in human resources is probably better suited to teaching job interviewing skills, while a food industry professional might be more productive volunteering to manage a soup kitchen.
I'm not who you were talking to, but. . . .
Can't one both make life most comfortable for the people who are poor among us (even if everyone were lifted out of poverty this minute, more would enter poverty tomorrow), and work to lift people out of poverty? Why choose one or the other?

God hasn't called me to help, but I try anyway. :)
Re: I'm not who you were talking to, but. . . .
well i think it is a matter of time and prioritizing right? If you've got 2 hours a day to volunteer you could spend it shopping for groceries for a needy family and taking it to them. Or you could spend it helping someone with job interviewing skills or helping them study for the GED right?
I'm not a Christian (I'm a Jew) but it seems to me that one should never accept poverty as the status quo. One should always try to prevent and remediate poverty. To accept poverty as a fact of life is to become complacent, and that leads to stagnation... modern Christian thinkers have already spoken on that (MLK, for instance.)
I was going to give you a verse that explicitly states the poor will always be with us, but I realized it was from the OT and wouldn't be relevant to your perspective. Are there any Torah verses that explicitly state the poor will always be among us?
My Gods tell me that both are important. I mean even if you teach a man to fish, it does diddly if the fish supply is low.
I mean even if you teach a man to fish, it does diddly if the fish supply is low

Rofl. It's true!

I agree with you - not about the Gods, but both helping the impoverished survive and helping them succeed go hand in hand.
I'm thinking this belongs in a religion forum...not here. Not everyone is called to help anyone else. Most of us are pretty focused on helping ourselves.

Nothing like force-fed religion first thing to start your day...
I agree with the people who suggest that this is not an either/or issue. People do what they can, a bit of this and a bit of that.

And it's not as if the poor are incapable of doing something about our own condition. Every one of us is poor in one way or another. Some are poor in terms of money, some are poor in terms of social skills, or loving relationships, or learning, or imagination, and some are poor in spirit. If the poor will always be with us it's because the human condition is a needy one - every one of us has needs - and every one of us has something to offer.

I'm asking the question here because its relevant to ask someone interested in poor skills which poor skill they find more valuable- how to get out of poverty or how to endure poverty more comfortably.
I'd have to say a little of both (not a Christian though).

It's pretty hard to train for a job if you're hungry. But you can only do so much for people, and I like option b better. Isn't there a saying that goes "the Lord helps those who help themselves"?
I'm not at all religious, but I do feel that both types of help are of great importance (possibly (a) to a slightly larger extent, as it's help which is available to the needy instantly). As a person of no religious beliefs I firmly believe that the onus should be on Governments, not those who have a calling, and that there should be more services put in place for the poor by those who are (supposedly) running the world. Poverty should be a much bigger focus in politics than it currently is.
You can give a man a job, but if he hasn't been eating right and can't think straight, can he do the job?

I vote for "both".

I am not a Christian or a student of Christianity, but my impression is that short-term practical help (feed the hungry, cloth the naked) is what's commanded. My guess is that short-term practical help at least has the virtue of almost certainly achieving its goals.

If I'm right about the text, then longer term help (education, job-hunting, political change) is something you do if your own judgment and/or prayer points you in that direction, but it isn't obligatory for everyone.
thanks so much for your input. I think the hard thing to decide is that one only has so many hours in the day and where should they be focused you know? I mean when it comes down to the two ways to help the poor. Your comment helped.
My $0.02 worth
While the poster did phrase this as a religious question, I feel you can put your own values on it. I am agnostic and yet I still believe strongly in helping my fellow man - I just don't frame it in religious terms. I think this question is wholly appropriate for the type of community this is. I don't think volunteerism is limited to the rich - I have more time than money so I give in that manner.

I believe that both are important but teaching people how to get out of poverty seems the better long-term goal. I agree with the person that said you can't teach someone while he/she is hungry. It is only after someone has basic needs met (shelter, food, etc.) can they really move forward from there.