Charity begins at home – it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it
I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot from people who, faced with a government taking away what little support there is in a world of frozen wage packets and rising prices and inflation, cling on ferociously to what they have and glare suspiciously at those they think are getting more for doing less. The people who have swallowed the “strivers vs skivers” misdirection whole. For these people, “charity begins at home” is an excuse not to exercise charity at all.
And by charity, I don’t just mean money. God knows, thanks to this crisis created by the richest in our society, there are plenty of people who simply can not find the money to heat their home, feed their kids and themselves and buy their kids a warm winter coat. I’m not suggesting they are being uncharitable if they use their meagre resources to feed themselves as well as their kids for a change.
To be charitable, is to give of ourselves – whether that is money, time or love. This cold-hearted interpretation of charity begins at home, this “me and mine first” attitude seems to cut out all charity. It is the mealy-mouthed cousin of “I’m alright Jack”.
But, there is another way to read those four words. With the emphasis on ‘begins’ not ‘home’. In other words, children learn what it is to be charitable from those around them. A child who sees a parent giving time to a neighbour (putting out the bins if they can’t, giving them a cup of sugar), or putting a pound in a collecting tin, or who simply experiences their love every single day, is a rich child indeed. And one who is more likely to spread that charity around.
Charity begins at HOME makes us all poorer. Charity BEGINS at home makes us all richer. I know which I prefer.