Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Lord’s Diner

Here in Wichita the Roman Catholic Diocese operates a charity named The Lord’s Diner . Information about this “soup kitchen” is available at their web site.

The diner has operated for a number of years, serving evening meals 365 days per year, with the numbers ranging from 400-500 per day. The diner has become an object of controversy by expressing a desire to establish a second location with the desire of providing more meals to more of the city’s needy. Some folk in the second area have objected to this, as is reported in the Wichita Eagle’s Tuesday edition entitled, “City sets public hearing on controversial Lord's Diner location for Nov. 17”.

The building is owned by the city. It is currently vacant, but some would like to see the building used for other purposes, including a job training center.

One very disturbing comment is reported to have been put forth by Kevin Myles, president of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP. The Eagle reports that he “said he wants the city to consider an alternative where the Diner delivers its prepared meals to churches throughout the central northeast neighborhood.”

This is a disturbing notion. Why? This is a privately operated charitable soup kitchen. That the NAACP should suggest that the city government should dictate to a private organization how it may conduct its charitable work is disturbing, even frightening. Perhaps Mr. Myles will realize this when given time to think about his stated desire. Surely he would not consider this to be appropriate if someone were to suggest that the city government dictate to the NAACP how it may operate and conduct its work. But when tyranny rules over one group, it can rule over all.

Another disturbing comment is reported to have been stated by Council member Lavonta Williams. The Eagle reports: “She proposed a public hearing be set for Nov. 17, instead of Nov. 3, as city staff proposed. And she indicated that she supports the Diner but questions the location when the city is trying to improve the area and has discussed a job training center at the building. "You can give a person a fish and they'll eat for a day but if you teach them to fish they'll eat for a lifetime," she said.

Why are these comments disturbing? First, it is delusional to imagine that a job training center will help people who are hungry now. It is furthermore delusional to imagine that spending money on a job training center will help the jobless when the availability of jobs continues to decline. The Lord’s Diner is offering to pay the city to use the building, and further to provide meals to people who are hungry.

Council member Williams quotes the cliche about teaching a person to fish, without taking into account the futility of such training. This cliche very accurately manifests the thoughtlessness of such propositions. Teaching a person to fish, does not make fishing possible where it is illegal to fish without purchasing a licence. If the people had money for a fishing licence, they could buy quite a few fish. Moreover there are legal restrictions placed upon where fishing may occur and how many fish may be caught and kept.

The point is that a job training center does a hungry person no immediate good, especially when this training center is being proposed as an alternative to a group who is offering free food now. Perhaps Councilwoman Williams has never been hungry. It is unlikely that anyone who knows the pain of hunger, the hunger that comes from poverty and helplessness, would ever imagine such a suggestion to be worthy of consideration or even mention. Certainly a job training center is a good idea for assisting people to prepare for the future, but not as a substitute for a group who is working to provide for the immediate needs of people who could starve or become weakened before any training would benefit them.

The area of town where The Lord’s Diner wants to operate the second soup kitchen is an area where many hungry people currently reside and traverse. Those who have expressed concern over having homeless people and other needy people congregating to be fed would do well to consider that desperately hungry people are far more likely to get into trouble than those who are congregating with the hope of receiving a meal to fill their bellies. People with the promise of receiving a meal may mill about, but those who have no such promise often will look with envy upon those who have something.

How much better it would be if the kind folk who operate and volunteer to serve in The Lord’s Diner were left in peace to carry on with their acts of compassion without interference from others.


The Crap Blog Detective said...

What's the soup of the day?

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

I have never eaten at The Lord’s Diner, although anyone may do so. I have heard from people that the meal is very enjoyable and nourishing. I have brought people to the diner, people who needed a ride. I also have heard from some older folk who eat there regularly, themselves being able to afford to eat elsewhere, but choose to eat at The Lord’s Diner and leave a donation to pay for their meal and support the work. My understanding is that the meals are varied, but substantive and tasty.

By the way, while I have not eaten at The Lord’s Diner, I do eat at the Lord’s Table every Lord’s Day and other feast days, and joyously administer His gracious heavenly food to those entrusted to my care.

Thanks for your question that appears to be intended as a polite and gentle gesture of humor, while also with an appropriate measure of seriousness.