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Essay on Charity

I learned something of what it means to be charitable recently after an encounter with a homeless man near my neighborhood. I do not come from a wealthy family, nor do I typically find myself with much money to spare now that I am on my own. Up to now, I have not felt that I am in a position to be charitable at this stage in my life. I have always felt vaguely sympathetic for those living on the streets, but I have also always been a bit suspicious of them. By this I do not necessarily mean that I am worried that they will attack me or attempt to rob me, but rather that the homeless have always seemed to me to accept their condition. I do not see howùor ifùthey attempt to pull themselves out of poverty and into the world that the rest of us inhabit. Like some of the social analysts described in Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach, I understand that poverty is more often than not a consequence of personal characteristics and individual choices, and not some structural prejudice (Henslin 300-302).

Having worked hard for what I have and what I am, I therefore do not necessarily feel an overwhelming urge to reach out to those less fortunate than me; we are all on our own in this society, and we must use our resources as best we can. In the homeless I often see people that have given up, surrendered to madness, or sloth, or addiction. And these are battles that all must fight, and though some are born to privilege, all must grapple with certain demons that do not discriminate.

It thus surprised me that I behaved the way that I did a few months ago. I was buying myself lunch at a food stand, and while I was in line I was accosted by a homeless man. He wanted a quarter from me, or at least a commitment to furnish him with one upon receiving my change from the sandwich vendor. I refused to make eye-contact, but said ôsorry, I canÆtö clearly and distinctly. He moved on to the other patrons, and met with similar re...

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Essay on Charity. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:28, February 21, 2017, from