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Do we have an obligation to help those less fortunate than us?

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Loulou's picture



I agree with the intent of the question, but object to the term: "those less fortunate than us." The fact that I have enough to eat and comfortable shelter isn't because I have better fortune or that I am somehow more favoured by God than those who live under oppressive conditions, or are victims of injustice, or struggle with poverty over which they have little or no control. The life and teachings of Jesus, as well as the Hebrew scriptures certainly make it clear that it is our obligation to help those who are poor and excluded from community. I am grateful for what I have, and the way to live the gratitude is to share what I have with others who have less.

Motheroffive's picture



Yes, and I think it's worth considering how we go about that. An approach based on charity rather than justice is unfair to those who are unable to meet their basic needs or that of their family.

theofrog's picture



I agree with both the concern about "less fortunate" and the justice rather than charity issue. Having said that, helping others is showing which God we belong to. I don't care whether the poor are "deserving" or not. They are poor, that is enough. What they do with whatever help I can give is up to them.

Grant's picture



I am with TheoFrog. Ours is not to ask the question, but to follow God and the teachings of Christ - to reach out, to embrace, to help. Period.

Gabby's picture



Yes, absolutely but we should use our resources wisely.

I help out in a soup kitchen in our community and we do not rely on government funds at all but the generosity of our benefactors so funds are tight.

This experience of helping in the soup kitchen has been eye opening. You have to get into it with the right mind set. You will be taken advantaged of but you will be helping many more people. We tend to remember the "rip offs", I think the devil is trying to discourage us.

Our society lives in a "fish bowl" and exclude the needy. By excluding the needy in your life you have become less human.

All types of people take advantage of our soup kitchen. Disabled people; physical, mental. Just plain bad luck. Some have made bad life choices that have endangered their health.

I'll stop my observations there.

A friend of Jesus.

Terminalman90's picture



My mind is not at all clear on this. I feel that we should help where we are able. I manage my own finances carefully and have difficulty someone who is incapable or unwilling to manage their own "properly". I am reluctant to have someone else squander what I have so carefully protected.

I also feel that simply giving charity to someone can teach them to be reliant on my charity rather than their own self-sufficiency.

I DO give to strangers though. I can't let my feelings listed above interfere with compassion. I always picture Jesus in the guise of each person with a hand out. People are people, and even the ones who are taking advantage are doing it out of fear and mistrust. It is a difficult choice. A faith choice.

Birthstone's picture



I had to consider where the obligation came from. I decided it isn't from the State (Empire), it isn't from our neighbours, it's from our own hearts or from God - depending on where you're coming from. I feel obligated to help. Even when I've had troubles. however I've also felt times that I was comfortable receiving help too.

zaphod3834's picture



I would answer in a modern metaphor.

A woman travelling with her child in an aircraft. The woman is the "more fortunate", the child less capable than the adult.

The cabin depressurizes. The oxygen masks deploy.

The instinct is to help the child, first. Idealistic, but fatal to both. The reality is that, for both to survive, the adult must mask first in order that she has the capability to help the less fortunate.

The adult maintains her capability to help and is therefore able to help.

The answer, to so narrow a choice of options, is that "we should try", "Absolutely yes" is noble, but if you foresake your own capability to help (ie: being "more fortunate"), you likely cannot.

jgrady's picture



Jesus said the poor will always with us, so it makes sense that we always have an obligation to look after the less fortunate. I would suggest that "less fortunate" does not necessarily mean "less money." The grieving, the worried, the depressed, those who suffer in ways we do not know, and this is global. We have been given a wonderful world; it is up to us to care for it all the life that is on it and in it. Surely Jesus wants us to be His disciples and care for His world.

spirit wind 7's picture

spirit wind 7


Jesus said 'the poor will always be with us' because, it seems to me, he knew the nature of humans was too often to hoard, or keep things to themselves...for a rainy day, their own rainy day. It is circumstance that can bring about being 'poor'. There are those that are thrust into it by some act of another, or, for example an accident that changes the ability to work, etc. The word 'poor' brings things to mind we've been taught as well.

Strangely we think mainly of dollars and cents. If you know nothing of having friends we are maybe poor in that regard. Or perhaps poor is just having less of whatever gives us abundant life. That can be spiritual, money, health, geography, attitudes. So quality of life inside us could be seen as having less.

We need to be careful about assuming we know enough about anyone to really know what their circumstances might be. Some we just might, but most we can't possibly know. And adults can and do choose unwisely at times in their finances.

Our Consumer Society is used by ads and subliminal messages that attract young children unable to discern what it's all about. Parents fall into that too, when they need to balancing children's need to be loved over and above 'things'. Objects can be helpful, but if the real basis of a loving relationship is not alive and well. It's the kids that end up poor, for a totally other reason.

Make Poverty History is a nonpartisan organization that can be a further vehicle to force governments to change their uncaring attitudes for the marginalized.

crazyheart's picture



I think that there is a difference between being poor and being less than poor. There are many happy poor people that I know and I am probably one of them. We have enough. We live a comfortable life because our expectations are not about riches and material things.

We have food. We have shelter; we have family and friends. But for those who are less than poor, they have no food, they have no shelter and these are the people that need what help we can give. It is , imho, our obligation.

Lion's picture



We should have compassion for others in need, and seek to help whenever we have the resources and opportunities to make a difference. Charity may be necessary when the only available way, but charity's historical connotations are negative indeed.

I agree with Karen Armstrong (see her latest book, "The Great Transformation") when she says that our compassion should be focussed not just personally or locally, but globally. We live in a tragic global community, and should face up to the reality of hugely widespread and accelerating suffering and the urgent need for collective action. The challenge for us as individuals and members of an organized religious community is to educate, encourage and strengthen each other to respond compassionately as individuals and as citizens of Canada,