My moral failing
Homelessness is a problem we all want to ignore. I must admit this is perhaps my biggest moral Achilles’ heel. I don’t give money to the homeless. I ignore them and treat them like they aren’t there, or avoid them, not look at them, even if they try to talk to me I blank them as if they were anyone else who was passing by, or rather, a no-one who I have no concern about. If I am caught by a homeless person and forced to talk, I try and make an excuse but it seems so feeble and degrading, that both of us feel worse off from it. Let me repeat myself: I don’t give to the homeless.
My friend Will
I have a friend who is a social scientist, lets call him Will. Will is a man of strict moral convictions who, although we disagree on important metaphysical issues; we find a kindred spirit in our social awkwardness and anxieties, and also our discontent with the way our peers behave. My friend will did a dissertation on the homeless, researching on the difficulties of methodology, and working around this, the information we have about the homeless.
I am proud to know a man who cares for the homeless, the downtrodden, the rejects of society. Will is a dear man, I fear him, I fear his love, but I admire his strength. I could never be as morally courageous or strict in his personal resolve, openness, and challenging nature. I wish I could tell him that I am Sinistre, or that I am a member of Areopagus.
Okay, so we grant that I don’t give to the homeless. Why not? Let me explore this introspectively:
- I too am poor – I live on a meagre pension from my patrons, and I have taken an oath of dedication to my cause
- I don’t care – I’m selfish, and if I gave to one homeless person, I’d have to give to them all
- Homeless people offend my sight – homeless people smell of god-knows-what, and could be dangerous or crazy, or ask for more money (happened before)
- It won’t help them – they probably will buy booze or drugs, or something that won’t help them survive in some long-term sense, but will satisfy their more carnal desires that give greater pleasure.
- It won’t help them (2) – giving to the homeless is the same as charity; it is a fringe wage for a fringe organisation/cause, which will only have fringe effects. Homelessness is NOT a fringe problem, it is a serious problem, and serious problems need to be addressed seriously. We don’t cure AIDS with a band-aid.
- It won’t help them (3) – helping one homeless person does nothing about their situation in general, it does not change the system that makes them homeless. How does it help to give a little meagre sum to them that does almost nothing, when it doesn’t do any genuine commitment or contribution to the improvements of their lives proper. we need structural change to solve this problem
To close this post for today; I leave you with two thoughts. One, I shall leave unanswered, and the other, is a story. The thought that I want you to have is: why are people on the streets? Think hard, and answer this. I don’t think I am able to answer this definitively and rigorously, I’ve given up my commitment to social science for Sophie.
The second thought; Father Thomas told me of a priest at a parish who turned down a beggar who knocked on his door, asking for money. The priest said “you will only spend it on drugs, I am not going to help you!!”, and slammed the door on this homeless man, who was amputated and using a pair of crutches to aid movement with a single leg. Something is seriously wrong with this image; it is this problem in my Church that makes me Sinistre, the anonymous.
What does it say about a man, nay, a Christian, nay, a Priest, to turn down a desperate man on his own doorstep, where the mandate of his duties as a priest is to look after his fellow man; but instead, turns him down and tells him to leave his premises. Is this abhorrent? This seems intuitively the right answer; or perhaps, is he trying to find a savvy tactical way out, like I am, by considering that the real change needs to be done on the macrosocial level.
I’m not going to justify what I do. I ignore the homeless, and I will continue to do so. I am a horrible person; but there is just too much suffering in the world that I can ever relieve. I try to do my bit, but there is only so much I can do. It seesm their plight, and the plight of others in the world proper, is a desperate one. I pray for the homeless this night, and I pray for Destre; who is in a time of great need.