Robert Lupton believes that Americans are some of the most giving people on the planet—but is our giving doing any good? Lupton says no. In fact, he says our charity is devastating those we are trying to help.
Free food and clothing distribution encourages handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while also increasing their dependency. Initiatives to clean up poor neighborhoods squelch the pride of residents who are capable of beautifying and cleaning their environment. In truth, no one wins in a “handout” culture.
Lupton charges individuals, churches, and organizations to walk away from spontaneous compassion and channel energy into sustainable solutions. He gives examples of churches buying toys and creating affordable shopping marts for low-income families to pick out Christmas gifts for their children. He says this option fosters dignity and responsibility, rather than forcing parents to face the shame of not being able to provide for their kids and receive free toys purchased by a wealthier family.
Lupton offers tools and examples that show this method of charity is not only proven, but also capable of lasting change.