According to Webster the definition of a humanitarian is:
A person promoting human welfare and social reform.
That sounds great right? Not necessarily. It depends on how one goes about promoting human welfare and social reform. Do you believe the government should have a role in promoting such causes?
I believe so, but to a very limited extent. The federal governments sole purpose in promoting human welfare is to protect my rights as an individual and to defend my country from foreign invasion. This is the limit as established by the Constitution of the United States. Technically this is not promoting human welfare, it is protecting humans so they can seek out their own welfare according to their own desires.
In regards to the governments role in taking care of people, Thomas Jefferson stated:
"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy."
As soon as the government gets into the business of helping people, it gains the power to take away or steal from its citizens. How does that work? The government itself does not produce anything. It is a parasite that needs a host in order to survive. If the people give the government the power to give to those in need, they have also unintentionally given power to take from those who have. Most people in our society today would say that is a humanitarian act. If you believe that the "rich" should pay a higher percentage of income tax in order to give to the less wealthy, who pay no income tax, you believe in a humanitarian function of government. A function I might add that does not exist in the Constitution.
"But there is no harm in such a humanitarian and charitable function of government" some would say. History would provide a very powerful argument against you.
I pay my income taxes because I am afraid the government would take away everything that I have, including my freedom. Most people likewise do the same. Since I am being coerced into paying an income tax, it is not a voluntary trasaction. I pay because I don't want to go to jail. You give up your wallet to a mugger with a knife because you don't want to die. It is not voluntary, it is coercion. All rational people would consider such actions as bad, or evil. What if the mugger gave the wallet he stole to a child on the brink of starvation? Do the ends justify the means? If you answer yes, then you believe it is okay to do evil if the end result is good.
What if the government does it?
If the government "steals" from the wealthy in order to pay for the feeding of hungry people in some other part of the world, is it a good thing? Is it okay to condone the evil act of stealing if the end result is the feeding of starving people? If you answer yes, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Dung, Pol Pot, and every other brutal dictator also thought the same.
The latest book I am reading, 10 Books That Screwed Up The World, by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D., makes very powerful arguments, based on history, of the terror that has been wrought by humanitarians:
"Yielding to the temptation to do evil in the service of good [has been] the source of unprecedented carnage in the twentieth century... The lesson learned - or that should have been learned-by such epic destruction is this: once we allow ourselves to do evil so that some perceived good may follow, we allow even greater evils for the sake of ever more questionalble goods, until we consent to the greatest evils for the sake of mere trifles."
C.S. Lewis expounded further the danger of allowing such action:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity must at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."
Ezra Taft Benson summed up the implications of the do gooder who uses evil means for his perceived glorious ends best:
Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own...The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional ‘do-gooders,’who attempt to set themselves up as gods and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means. ( An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 140)
The government cannot bestow charity, for it has nothing to give. There is NOTHING charitable when a politicion gives money that is not his to those in need. There is NOTHING charitable about stealing from people and giving it to others to help them out. It is not a Christian principle, it is not a principle of liberty, it is theft, it is stealing, it is a violation of the commandments of God. In the forsight of the Lord, he forbids such action, because he knows the end result as demonstrated by the human carnage of the twentieth century.
The true humanitarian is a person who preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While on the Earth, Christ angered many of his "followers" when He refused to form a political movement, or be crowned an earthly king by His "followers". Christ wanted to change the hearts of people, which in turn would change government, society and civilization. A true humanitarian, someone who promotes human welfare and social reform, is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, who promotes nothing more or less than His message. This did NOT include doing evil for end results that are good.