Tuesday, June 06, 2006Yesterday I ran across these photos by Jacob Holdt. The pictures are from the 1970s, depicting some terrible poverty. Some of them also feature nudity, though its more National Geographic than Playboy. Keep that in mind if you're scanning the pictures at work.
The pictures are interesting as they demonstrate the absolute squalor in which many minorites lived during the 1970s. I have little doubt that many folks still live in these conditions. And on some level I am humbled as I look around my apartment, or rather my fiance's apartment, and see how much stuff I have. And yet I do not feel guilty. Economics is not a zero-sum affair. I do not have a television at the expense of the poor. People are not poor because a celebrity is rich.
At the same time, charity and goodwill - motivated at least in part by my faith - compel to help those in need. The question, then, is how to we help? I strongly believe in the notion that it is better to teach a man to fish than to simply give him the fish, yet there are whole areas of the country - the Black Belt, the Delta, Appalachia - where no one knows how to fish and some folks just don't want to. Is it too simplistic to say that the Gospel is the answer? Probably so, but I can't shake the notion that government programs won't do it in the long run. Only a change in heart will resurrect the economic prospects of an area. The change of heart must come not only to the poor but also to the rich.