Asking Why

When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a Communist.

Archbishop Helder Camara,
Brazilian liberation theologist

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Categories: Great Quotes, Social Justice | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Asking Why

  1. Gary

    One of my favorites!

  2. Jennie

    Feding the poor enables the society to continue in its current behaviors a little longer without facing the fact that they are harmful. Asking why the poor have no food directs the attention away from the poor themselves and toward the social behaviors and structures that create poverty.

    It is with societies as it is with individuals: almost always it is more pleasant to have someone else rescue us, even temporarily, from the consequences of our bad behaviors and our false beliefs than it is to have to actually acknowledge and change them. Not that it is better or more helpful, mind you – simply more pleasant in the short run. Transformation is rarely pleasant. It is painful, and dangerous, and we typically resist it with all our might, until we reach a point of crisis. It takes courage and vision to cross that threshold, to step through the doorway knowing that you cannot return unchanged, and therefore not really return at all. What we know seems safer than the unknown, even if we can see the destruction all around us, hear the wolf at the door, feel the knife at our throats. How we are seems good, or at least comfortable, even if we are immersed in misery. Until here and now is so uncomfortable that it is harder to remain as we are than it is to change, those who point out our suffering and the causes of our suffering will always be dismissed and villified, whether on the level of the individual or the society.

    If we have the vision, if we see the change that needs to occur, we then have a few options about how to bring that about. We can make the prospect of change less fearsome, more inviting, or we can make business as usual more uncomfortable.


  3. Dignity is not negotiable.
    Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York

    Some people act as though others must pay for dignity and often the price is too dear.

    If this exists, there is poverty.

    Then some give their dignity away thinking it of no value, no use and do not recognise anything of the loss.

    If this exists, there are the poor.

    It when these meet the generations are lost.

    It is when these people meet there are the poor.

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