July 3. “The greatest good we can do for anyone is not to share our wealth with them, but rather to reveal their own wealth to them. It’s astonishing how much talent and ability rests inside a human being.” (Zig Ziglar)
At the top of this post let me say that I am not suggesting that people stop contributing to charitable causes. I am a big believer in giving money and goods to various charities that are there to help those in troubled times, and I encourage others to do the same. I do, though, think that the receipt of those offerings should be as temporary as possible, and that we need to spend as much time and money helping people get out of their situation as we do feeding and clothing them while they are in the situation.
Just about every day, while driving home from work I see people standing at the side of the road with cardboard signs asking for spare change. Their reasons on the signs always seem desperate. Occasionally I will give to them, but most times, like most people, I drive by. I cannot say or begin to know what their circumstances may be, and I presume to pass judgment on no one. I can only speak to what I see, and what I see usually is a person who appears to be fairly able bodied. It makes me sad to see them there. Sad not only for the situation they are in, but because I believe that these people have the potential to pull themselves up if they had the right encouragement.
There is an extremely tired proverb that says if you give someone a fish, they will eat for a day, and if you teach them to fish they will eat for a lifetime. I say it is tired because it has so often been repeated. But the concept is certainly not tired or dated. When people are taught and encouraged to do things for themselves, rather than simply accepting the handout, the door is open for them to find their own way.
Today my reflection is on how we, as a people, can truly help those among us who have less wealth. I think there is definitely tremendous good that is done when we give our money, our extra food, our unused goods and clothing to charities. But, I think the gold is in how our society helps these people to see their own wealth, their own capabilities, their own talents, and how to use them to pull themselves ahead.