How many cries for mercy are there around me? They seem infrequent because I live in a prosperous country. And a cry from someone who knows that they need just a hand-up, not a hand-out is even more rare. Jean Valjean was willing to work and take just enough to survive the night. The rejection of the people embittered him, causing him to become angry and commit crime against the kind. But the case seems rare. Crime seems to be more of a culture in our country, related to drugs and convenient opportunity as opposed to a last resort for an honest man. Almost everyone I know would help a Jean Valjean. He is a noble poor person.

I hear that the noble poor exist, but in our foster care experience and homeless shelter work, I have yet to meet one. Perhaps that is because of where I live. Perhaps I am not paying attention. Our experience is with poor people who are already dependent upon the government and individual charity, but who are happy to leave it that way. In Toxic Charity (Robert D. Lupton) suggests that we are hurting people more than helping them by giving them stuff outside of relationship and accountability. But the government checks from Washington D.C. keep coming without the relationship of a local mentor.

More often, the real criers are the hurting souls around me hidden behind straight street faces. But the cries are muted due to pride and self-sufficiency paradigms.