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6) They are too physically or mentally disabled to cook, which is how they got poor in the first place.
7) They live in an urban area where the convenience store grocery is the only place to buy food, and all it sells is canned soup.
8) They’re working outdoors at a construction site or something all day long and they can’t carry a crock of beans and rice with them, but they can carry a few bucks for McDonald’s.
9) They take the bus fifteen miles to buy groceries at Wal Mart, but it’s very difficult to carry bulky sacks on the bus, so they buy lightweight things like Twinkies and little boxes of cereal.
10) Their lives are miserable, their self-esteem is in the toilet, they have no fun, no vacations, no TV, no bathtub with bubble bath, no gym membership, whatever the rich do to unwind besides patronizing people is not an option, so they sometimes say “Screw it” and treat themselves to a nice big fast food meal with all the trimmings or a pack of cigarettes. It’s called being a human person. We all have needs, and recreation is a need that we have.
The Golden Rule is to love your neighbor as yourself. Not to love your neighbor as a leaner, more puritanical version of yourself without psychological needs. You ought to treat others with the same care and gentleness you use on yourself. It’s not love to donate a can of off-brand beets to the food drive and then despise your neighbor in your heart; it’s certainly not love to patronize and lecture your neighbor as if his predicament is his own fault. It is against the Golden Rule to hold other people to a higher standard than yourself. If you sometimes buy convenience foods, then you sin against the Golden Rule if you despise poor people for sometimes buying convenience foods. If you ever treat yourself to a cigarette or a restaurant meal when you need to relax, you do not have any place to judge a poor person for smoking or buying McDonald’s.
When you see someone struggling, you’re not supposed to tell them what they did wrong to get to that point. You’re supposed to help.
Help in the way you would like to be helped, if you were struggling. Dare to have a bit of empathy. Put yourself in their shoes.
If you were struggling financially and didn’t have enough to eat, would you want some pompous budgeting advice from a wealthier person? What would you want instead? For someone to buy you a pack of cigarettes or a coke? Do that for your neighbor. Would you daydream about someone taking you to a restaurant and treating you to a real burger and fries instead of a fast food hockey puck? Do that for your neighbor. Would you wish that someone in a position of financial or political power would fight against the dishonest landlords and get you into safe housing? Work on that. If you honestly think that what you’d need if you were poor is bulk grains and whole roasting chickens, take a poor person to the store and fill their cart with bulk grains and whole roasting chickens.
If you love the poor, you will do unto them as you would have them do do unto you.
And if you’re a Christian, loving the poor isn’t optional.
(image via Pixabay)