Poverty, Dignity, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Our Pantry.

Our Pantry.


Last weekend, an earnest, freckled Cub Scout approached me outside our grocery store and asked me to help with his food drive.  He gave me a list of especially-needed food items for the food pantry at South County Outreach and invited me to fill up the special red plastic bag that marked “food drive food.”  I don’t know about you, but one of my Rules for Living is say yes to Cub Scouts. 

At the top of the “most wanted list”? Peanut butter. And jelly. 

So, for at least some people in Orange County, poor translates to eats sandwiches prepared with donated peanut butter and jelly. 

For many of the rest of us, one rule we respect about poverty is poor people have fragile self-esteem, so be careful not to suggest they should be ashamed. 

It’s kind of a weird idea, isn’t it? It’s part of that bootstrapping, self-made, American-ingenuity-we-can-do-anything-by force-of-will mentality that helped make this country great.

And yes, I know that some people are poor as a result of their own bad decisions.

But that’s never true of children. Not ever. 

In many parts of the world, decisions have nothing to do with poverty.

And that’s why poverty should be disconnected from shame. Would you starve to death because you were too proud to ask for help?

I’d love to see poverty eradicated. Wouldn’t you?

Meanwhile, I long for a world where poverty and dignity go together. Like, well, like peanut butter and jelly.

One of the features of Compassion International that I appreciate is their unrelenting focus on love, on sharing Jesus–yes, on dignity. 

These people do it right. Won’t you partner with them to care for one blamelessly poor child today?  

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)

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