This morning I read on a friend's Facebook page the link to a piece about the poor. One of the responses to her post was "I'm tired of helping those people".
It actually hurt my heart.
The person said that she was tired of people on food stamps being able to shop at "high end" stores while she shopped at Aldi's. That she had tried feeding homeless people that threw her food back at her, wanting only money.
I hear that a lot, and it never fails to make me cringe. You see, I have spent a lot of time around impoverished people. I have worked alongside them. I have fed them and clothed them and taught my children to love them because they are, after all, created in the very image of God.
I certainly can't make a case for every person out there that is on food stamps or medicaid or holding a cardboard sign in an effort to collect a few bucks, but I can speak for the people that I have come to know and pray for and, well, actually love.
First, let me start with the "I tried to give them a Big Mac and they said they didn't want it" people. One gentleman shared with me that he couldn't eat fast food because it gave him wicked diarrhea, and when you're on the street, diarrhea and no public restrooms in sight are not a good combination. Use your imagination here.....and let's just leave it at that.
I've never heard (which is not to say it hasn't happened, of course) of a homeless person turning away a healthy sandwich or fruit, water or crackers. Their bodies are malnourished (even if they're obese; see the latest study by the NIH on homelessness and obesity) so they actually crave nutrition. I heard a homeless woman at Wendy's one time turn down a Frosty being offered to her, saying, "I can't eat that, it makes me snotty." I could tell by the giver's face that she was appalled that a homeless, poor woman wouldn't accept her $1 charitable gift. But think about it. Dairy makes a LOT of people mucous-y. If you are living outside in allergy season, do you really want more snot in your head than you already have? Did this woman know how to verbalize that? Obviously not. But to become offended and walk away to tell your friends that you graciously tried to give a homeless woman a Frosty and she refused it.....well, that's a great story to tell, isn't it?
After all....those people don't really want our help, now, do they?
And what about those freeloaders at Whole Foods buying organic apples when I'm buying my $5 bag of pesticide ridden ones at Wal Mart?
First of all....very few poor people can crunch their food stamp budget enough to buy organic, but if they can and do, then more power to them. I rather like the idea of a poor single mama buying organic for her children. However, that is not the common thread of poverty. Most food stamp purchases are for cheap, non-nutritious foods, because they are, well, cheap. Most moms know the value of bread and fillers when they have a lot of mouths to feed and we're trying to stretch a meal. My mom was a big pasta filler. She'd make a goulash for a family of 6 with one pound of ground beef and 2 pounds of noodles. My sister one time told me she made a Chinese stir fry for her family with ONE chicken breast, a few veggies, and rice. Rice, potatoes, pasta and bread are dirt cheap and can fill empty tummies. What I tend to see in too many shopping carts are bologna, bread, ramen, and little debbies. You can buy a LOT of crap for your allotted EBT money each month. Organic veggies? Notsomuch.
And really? I think if Jesus were going to head down to feed some hungry people, He'd pretty likely give them the very best.
Shouldn't we do the same?