Are you sometimes angry at the poor? Do you ever angrily make comments like “They’re getting a free ride,” or “If they can afford cigarettes and booze and pets, they can afford to feed themselves,” or “It’s their fault. They’re the ones who made the bad choices,” or “It’s not fair how the government happily helps people on welfare, but won’t help honest working people when they are in trouble”? I suspect we all make these kinds of comments, or at least think them. I know I do (that last comment especially…).
Is our anger justified? Is anger a helpful approach? In his post, “Anger at the poor,” Damaris Zehner lists a number of reasons why people get so angry at the poor:
- because poor people in our nation don’t fit our notions of what poverty really is; they have lots of stuff really we think truly poor people should not have
- because we feel they exploit the system, abusing welfare benefits and employment insurance and so on
- because we feel that they have made poor personal choices, and don’t deserve help and compassion
- because we feel that when we have to share what we have (by donating or by taxes etc), the poor are getting our stuff for free, taking away the happiness we’ve worked so hard for ourselves
- because no matter how much we help out the poor, some of them just stubbornly stay poor
- because it makes us feel better about ourselves, our superiority, in contrast
- because we think anger is an appropriate response to exploitation, unfairness, or wrongdoing
In the post, Damaris goes on to discuss, “What is the proper Christian attitude toward the poor in today’s complicated economic and political climate?” His answers are the answers of Jesus, of scripture, of the church fathers. There is no room for anger, only for compassion. Toward all.
Damaris explores each of the points above in some detail, as well as looking in the Christian attitude question in detail. Read the full article here and then come back and share your thoughts in our comments section below:
Question: What makes you angry about the poor? Do you agree that we must always be compassionate? Are there times when compassion is not deserved or helpful? Do you think the “proper Christian attitude” is right, or is overly naive in today’s situations?