Recently I’ve noticed how several politicians try to argue that helping the poor does not help the poor. In the Swedish town of Linköping the train station has forbidden homeless Romas to stay in their facilities – they’ve even blocked the electric sockets to stop them from charging their phones. Joakim Kärnborg from Linköping municipality defends this decision by saying: “I think we would do the migrants a disservice by isolating them in a warm and cosy place to be in.”
Meanwhile in Florida, a 90-year-old Christian man who is helping the poor through an organization called Love Thy Neighbor, was arrested the other day. His crime was that he was giving food to the homeless. I kid you not, an officer shouted “Drop that plate immediately!” as if it was a gun, and arrested him for homeless feeding.
See, Fort Lauderdale has passed through a law that makes it illegal to hand out food to hungry people, along with other laws that forbids begging and sleeping in public places. Commissioner Dean Trantalis explained that in formulating these ordinances, “the rights of all individuals were addressed and the goals of keeping a safe and welcoming environment were maintained.” He then shared how surprised he was that a representative from a homeless activist group refused to talk to him about his brilliant ideas.
Both of these men basically say that not helping the poor will help the poor and, conversely, that helping the poor will not help the poor. At first glance it seems to contradict even the most basic assumptions of life, that that which is, is, and that which is not, is not. But the two gentlemen seem to claim some form of rationality as a basis for their policies: Kärnborg says that the Roma migrants try to get enough money to get home to Eastern Europe again, so why try to warm them while they’re here? And Trantalis explains that there are programs funded by the authorities that the homeless now will feel more inclined to join now when it’s forbidden for them to eat, sleep and beg for money in public.
The problem with these rational explanations is that they are not rational. Rather, they are bullshit. Both gentlemen seem to assume that the reason that the homeless do not do what they want (migrating to Eastern Europe or attending public programs) is not that they have reached the conclusion that these solutions are insufficient, but that they are stupid monkeys that need to be forbidden the help that they do think is sufficient, or at least beneficial, to meet their needs. Furthermore, the gentlemen seem to believe that it is impossible to allow homeless people to warm themselves or eat free food while the authorities do things to help the homeless to a point where such help is no longer needed (as I’ve pointed out earlier, a really smart thing to do to defeat homelessness is to give homeless people a home. In fact, that’s the only thing that works).
These men join the dishonorable company of Lady Aneley, the British foreign minister who literally wants refugees to drown in the Mediterranean because saving their lives, she says, would make them drown in the Mediterranean.
Seriously folks, if you want to sin against the divine command to love your neighbor as yourself and to give to anyone who asks you, please at least be open about it and stop claiming that help is not helping or that non-help is helping. It’s no secret that you’re egoistic cowards who hate the poor, your actions speak louder than your irrational words. Just repent and share the joy of loving, helping and saving the poor rather than the sorrow of being a dick to them.