Admittedly, my politics change a lot. As a Christian, it should be simple enough to follow the example of Jesus, but applying the Jesus stuff to modern life isn’t exactly cut-and-dry. Then there’s the meta-narrative of God’s love. How do you show love? How do you help? Sure…we can tackle this in apolitical ways, but politics do affect these things. I used to join the bandwagon of those that simply spoke out against poverty and oppression, but a closer look at the relationship between politics and poverty leaves me with a ton of questions.
What role exactly should the government play in helping people in need of it?
In a recent discussion with someone who works at a government-funded facility for severely mentally handicapped people, I realized that the question over the role of government isn’t as easy as the political pundits suggest. For those that can help themselves to a certain degree, we must provide opportunity. For those who cannot help themselves, we must accept responsibility for their welfare. Problem is, what is an acceptable level of self-sufficiency? What does that look like? Where do the scales tip from compassion to enabling?
These questions go beyond political science. When someone comes to receive help at our church, I close my eyes and sign the grocery voucher, hoping that I’m not being taken advantage of –this after recording information and having a conversation. Truth is, I’m never really sure if I’m helping or hurting. The role of government question is a tricky one because helping people is tricky.
But one thing is clear: I’m not about to take a hiatus from helping people just to figure it all out.