Compassion has always been a conservative principle. It is rooted in a love and support for the less fortunate.

Conservatives are constantly told they’re against “the little guy”.  That we ignore the great societal issue of poverty and that we are cold-hearted and socially ignorant. But these accusations are based on a perception that conservatives lack sympathy. The irony is that conservatism suggests an answer that the left will never have. Our solution provides a “hand up” not a “hand out”.

In 2017, many conservatives have gotten so wrapped up in attacking opposition that we’ve lost our true north.

There is no question that poverty is a global issue. It plagues our own cities as well. Los Angeles county has a homeless population of 46,874 individuals. According to LA’s Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA), this number shows a 5.7% gain. As the U.S. faces greater economic uncertainty, families are pushed to their limits and end up becoming part of these statistics.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that 549,928 people are homeless on any given night in our country. Of that number 194,716 were families.

I’ve had the unique opportunity of serving in the skid-row area, and I vividly remember an early brisk morning in December, when I was out giving breakfast to the homeless residents on south San Pedro street with a group of people. A woman with her two little girls were sitting in a small cardboard box on the road. I noticed her, so I approached her to share some food. But as I did so, a man appeared seemingly out of nowhere. He began yelling incoherently and our entire group was in shock. Then I saw him take a syringe, which likely had heroin, and proceeded to shoot it up into his arm. This mother and her daughters watched as everything unfolded.

These kids showed no emotion, they only looked away and then turned to me with smiles.

Childhood poverty and situations like the one I experienced happen every day and they require immediate attention. Compassion requires one to acknowledge others’ humanity, and the sharing of a conversation with someone who may have nothing.

President Hoover said, “Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” Compassion gives our fellow-man dignity and a sense of self-worth. This is what we as conservatives can offer to the less fortunate.

Many conservatives have the benefit of faith. Many of us can share the love of Christ which sets us free. For it is compassion that marks a true conservative, a humble compassion that seeks service. One that comes out of a yearning to do so, not as a form of forced charity.

You may ask what does a “hand-up” look like. The answer lies in a perspective which ignores monetary success or status. Rather, it is someone who sits down and listens. A person who hears the challenges of our poor as human beings, not human waste. Giving people the chance to find an education, a job, and a sense of self-worth. These tasks require a herculean effort but are not impossible.