Friday, October 16, 2015

It’s Time To Be Doers Of Conservatism And Not Just Hearers

Bob Lupton may not be a conservative, but he has been a practitioner of poverty alleviation for decades. He moved with his family to a low-income neighborhood in Atlanta and has since helped rebuild one neighborhood after another. Along the way, he has seen what works and what fails across the United States and in numerous developing countries around the world.
Part of poverty is the feeling that one does not contribute to the surrounding community.
He explained in “Toxic Charity,” published in 2011, that much of what has been tried not only does not work, but poisons the giver and the recipient, creating resentment and dependency. Together with Brian Fikkert’s “When Helping Hurts,” published two years earlier, “Toxic Charity” challenged the assumption of most Christian churches and charities (not to mention secular charities and government programs) that giving without expectation of getting anything in return is effective charity.
“Nobody has ever been served out of poverty,” Lupton writes. Part of poverty is the feeling that one does not contribute to the surrounding community. But receiving goods and services with nothing in exchange can leave one feeling he has nothing of value to contribute. If Uncle Ben’s lesson to Peter Parker was, “with great power comes great responsibility,” then it is little wonder charity feels disempowering—it asks the recipient to take no responsibility, so what power can he have? At the same time, generous benefactors may look to Jesus’ words and demand much of those to whom they have given much.
Value is only created through reciprocal exchange. That is why business owners create wealth and redistribute it through government or philanthropy, and why we should look to the potential of for-profit ministry. Social enterprise takes on a deeper meaning in the organizations Lupton profiles than in many benefit corporations, or B Corps, which are intended to balance the interests of owners with benefits to the environment and society but more often provide a veneer of conspicuous compassion to otherwise ordinary consumer purchases.