After reading Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton, my views on charity have been strengthened. I have recently read When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert which is very similar to Toxic Charity, and Lupton has views that match the views expressed in When Helping Hurts. Charity can be a very complicated issue because it can easily create dependence, but dependence leads to problems. Lupton says, “Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people” (4). This sentence by Lupton sums up my views on charity. Charity can be a great thing if performed correctly, but charity can be toxic to society by destroying the initiative to work. I believe that giving can be good, but giving must be used in emergency situations. The giver must be careful in order to keep the receiver from becoming dependent.
Lupton’s book has encouraged me to perform charitable acts, but it must take careful planning to perform charity rather than toxic charity. I was discouraged about charity after reading When Helping Hurts, and over time I realized that charity can be great if performed correctly. Toxic Charity has a negative start which can discourage charity, but the book later describes a great way to perform charity that does not create dependence. I have been interested in microfinance and this book goes into details about how it can create wealth building assets in other countries, but seems to struggle in the United States. Since I learned about microfinance, I wondered why it was not available in the United States, and this book made me understand the reason. People in the United States have become dependent on charity and would refuse a loan because they are given everything they need. My views on giving are that gifts should only be used in emergency situations. Sponsoring a family during Christmas is not as good as it seems. The father of the family often feels terrible because he cannot afford to buy gifts for his family and creates a God-complex for the sponsor. Lupton offers that the people that buy gifts should donate the gifts to a store that will sell them way below price to fathers that cannot afford the gifts at retail price. I believe that Lupton has a great idea because it increases the incentive for fathers to have the ability to buy toys for their children for Christmas.
Lupton has dedicated his life to charity, and he has learned how to properly help communities in need. Lupton lives in low income communities and develops relationships with the residents, which allows him to learn what the community needs and help the community work together to achieve their goals. I believe that a relationship with people in need is the most important aspect of charity. My view aligns with Lupton’s view and the view from When Helping Hurts. I feel that a relationship with someone in need prevents a God-complex from forming, and allows for communication. Communication is important when deciding what projects need to be done to better the community. Lupton has a three step process that follows a process outlined in When Helping Hurts. The first step is relief, which is giving to people in need during an emergency situation. The second step is rehabilitation, which is to help the community prepare for future emergencies. The third and final step is development, which is setting up long term goals to improve the quality of life in the community. I feel that before charity work is started in a community, one must establish a plan to follow all three steps if they are necessary. Development in a community prevents the creation of dependence and creates wealth generating assets within a community.
In conclusion, I feel that charity is necessary when performed properly, but charity is performed improperly by most people. The improper form of charity has created dependence and destroyed the initiative for people to earn. The dependence and lack of initiative has led to a feeling of entitlement for people that receive the charity. I feel that proper charity must undergo careful planning, and that proper charity can change a community for long periods of time. My belief of charity is similar to the saying, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.