People have needs, no question about it. Most agree with the basics; food, shelter, and access to medical care. Opinion begin to divide when one goes beyond this; what type of shelter, educational access, scope and span of medical care, housing amenities like a refrigerator, telephone, television, and cable connection, or living styles and sex.
When you look at a person in India or a remote section of Africa, the challenge clearly focusing on the center and the basics. The question is focuses on how to help, not if. The challenge is solving the long-term problems versus providing a one-shot meal that only postpones the current course of action.
As you progress beyond the most intense human situations, you come to people starving within site of a grocery store. I still find it hard to understand why anyone should go hungry this way, however, I know it has and continues to happen. One of the most painful situations occurs when the results are the direct choice of one or more of the participants involved. Why? What can we do about it?
First, remember the rule. “Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air; common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.” (Proverbs 11.28)
Second, respond to the needs of others by focusing on making a difference with their lives first, not your own.
Third, look for opportunities to change the awareness and sensitivity level of others. Help them make a difference in the lives they touch. Be their mentor and guide.
Some problems, hunger and homelessness in western society, hunger and joblessness in many of the emerging markets, and exploitation of children everywhere have no simple answers. The underlying reasons are complex and it is easy to be overwhelmed and paralyzed. In the midst of this it is easy to miss a fundamental need within you and me; the need to exercise and practice compassion.
At our heart we desire to experience Divine compassion and we are, I believe, designed to give it away. Focus on this and live.