I often hear people talking about the many resources that are available to people living in poverty, but are baffled when they don’t reach out to utilize them.
They shake their heads. They wag their fingers.
They say, “They are only getting what they deserve.”
Most people who live scarce lives only do so because they were made to believe that lack, poverty, and brokenness is all that could ever be their reality.
And instead of sympathetically and compassionately acknowledging where they are, most “do-gooders” and “helpers” jump to the “get-over-it” stage.
“If they really wanted more, they would reach out for it.”
But, not always easy.
Is it important to be solution-based? Absolutely!
But, if I am constantly getting judgment and criticism, negatively reinforcing all the things that I’m NOT doing, how encouraged will I be to reach out to anyone, anywhere, for any reason?
Rather, my survival instinct (where most scarce minds subsist) will make me go on the defense, ready to launch an attack on anyone bold enough to send their attacks my way.
In fact, it can make you cynical of anyone and anything that resembles that brand of “help”.
We are told that the police are there to “help”, but mass incarcerations for petty crimes, brutality, and injustices say otherwise.
We are told that family court and child protection agencies are there to “help”, yet the many children chewed up and spit out by an apathetic system and parents being pitted against each other say otherwise.
We are given handouts that nobody wants and told that we should be grateful, but then are looked at crazy and asked, “Don’t you want more for yourself?”
How can I want more than I even know is possible for me to have??
And all of this pressure builds up on the mind, the heart, and causes an implosion.
Our hearts literally break.
We become depressed.
We become angry.
And then we become apathetic.
It’s enough to turn the heart to stone.
And a stone heart can’t let love in, so it certainly won’t let love out.
So, instead of being dismissive, instead of believing that there is no hope, can we try compassion? Can we lend an ear?
Rather than throwing band-aid solutions at people that need open heart surgery and then feigning anger when it isn’t yielding results, why not pay more attention?
Lift people up.
Or at least admit that you aren’t really looking to help solve the problem and move out of the way for someone who is.
Whatever you water grows, so it seems that we might see better results if we do a heart check, first on ourselves, then see where we can help to heal, REALLY heal, the hearts of others.
Food pantries, clothing drives, toy drives, health fairs…
Those are all great.
But, what about providing life skills that will make it so that people do not need to stand in these endless lines? What about truly learning what obstacles permit people from reaching out for help?
Then, listening and implementing what is heard?
So, the next time you feel tempted to ask, “Why don’t more people reach out for help?”, remember: there may be more there than meets the eye, so learn to see with a loving heart.