Two recent examples. Today's Real Change offers a cleaned up and obsessed over version of "Housing? What Housing? An Odyssey," which, if I do say so myself, winds up being one of the better pieces of writing I've ever produced. Conversely, today's Director's Corner, a 250-word challenge to pith and clarity that is better some weeks than others, offers some thoughts on the relationship of justice to charity that derives from the writing I've done here. I could not have been this concise without first subjecting you all to more rambling versions here.
I’ve made some people angry lately by saying that charity and volunteerism have fooled us into thinking that we have done enough. As we give and give and give while things mostly stay the same, it’s easy to think that the poor themselves must somehow be to blame.
Superficial evidence of progress is regularly trumped by the growing chasm between rich and poor. While federal McKinney-Vento funding for programs serving the homeless grew by $70 million between 2002 and 2006, between 2004 and 2006, HUD funding decreased by $3.3 billion. Further cuts are likely this year.
It’s hard to see, really, how things could be otherwise.
Given the increasingly lopsided distribution of wealth and power in this country, the math of poverty and homelessness becomes inevitable. Tax breaks, war, and legislative pork come at a price paid by the powerless.
We have come to the point that, unless these issues are addressed, government simply does not have the capacity to adequately care for the poor.
Over the decades, we have lost our sense of responsibility to each other as a community. We have forgotten that to be human is to deserve dignity, and that we owe that to each other.
Charity is a necessary act of mercy in response to an unacceptable now. But acts of charity divorced from work for justice eventually turn to bitter ash. When we burn for justice, we generate a light that makes our way clear.