"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
This idea came up in a conversation recently. A man's church is finding themselves in an argument because some church members don't like that the church has a community meal that feeds the hungry. They want the church to offer classes and resources to teach the hungry to be self-sufficient.
Why can't we do both?
I guess I just think the compassionate response to a hungry person is to feed them.
If I come upon a naked person, am I going to leave them naked while I teach them to sew? Or am I going to give them my shirt?
And who says they don't already know how to fish? Maybe what they are lacking is a full belly, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, mental health care, a fishing pole and net, and a safe, healthy place to catch fish.
I'm sure this isn't some new idea. But it just struck me - why is it one or the other? Why can't it be a parallel path? Feed the hungry person. And if you can be part of a longer term solution to resolve what is causing them to be hungry in the first place, do that, too.
Too. Also. In addition. Likewise.
And you know what really slays me? There is this idea that the give vs teach idea is somehow Bible or Christian based. And there are Christians who believe that it is, too.
When Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn't take the small amount of fish and the small bit of bread and look at the hungry people and say, "Go get a few nets and some boats, find a quiet place to cast the nets into the water, Wait patiently to fill your net with fish and pull the net in slowly."
Nope. The disciples said - let's tell them to go buy themselves food because we only have this small amount. Jesus said not to send anyone away and then he fed thousands and thousands of people.
He never taught them to fish. He didn't send them away. He just fed them. And even had leftovers!