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Actually, you know what? I do have a point besides just helpless fury.

Charity vs. tzedakah, or acting out of compassion rather than acting out of obligation. (1/x)
We had a Christian lady show up to a Jewish text study event (happens with surprising frequency), and she seemed like a lovely person.
She cares for the elderly. (Which is something I could not fucking do as a day job, so, respect.) And she was talking about how the most important thing is to do it with a cheerful heart, without annoyance or resentment, because this is what makes the work holy.
And this is the sort of thing I hear a lot from people who aren't in favor of more government action in taking care of the poor. That the government should leave it to religious organizations and charities, that we should care for the poor out of compassion, not obligation.
And that charity is something motivated by having a good heart, by compassion, by love.

Like you see someone in need, you feel compassion for them, and overflowing with goodness, you choose to help.
I think that's a beautiful sentiment, and yeah, it sure feels good to be filled with generosity and bounty and love for them and give with an open, joyous heart.

I've had that experience a few times. It feels SO good.
I also think it's bullshit and probably why we still have people without homes.
I wasn't feeling bounty and joy and love and compassion the other night. I don't usually feel it when I give money or spend time trying to help.

I wasn't looking at that family and feeling sympathy and thinking about oh, how good that I can help them.
I was tired and cranky and mostly just pissed that they were in that situation at all.

I didn't have a cheerful heart. If that were what makes me stop to help, I'd hardly ever do it.
And if my attitude is what makes an act actually charitable, well, almost every time I give, I'm failing completely.
Of course I smiled, and did everything I could NOT to make it seem like this was a burden on me. Asking for help can be humiliating, and heaven forbid that I add to that humiliation by making it seem like I resent being asked.
I don't resent being asked. I resent that people HAVE to ask.

It's not their fault they're homeless. It's OUR fault.

And I don't help because I am a good person. I help because it's fucking WRONG that anyone's walking around desperate for shelter.
And I help because any one of us has more in common with the homeless than they do with fucking billionaires who could change this overnight if they bothered to give a shit.
Like, I don't help because I'm filled with love and compassion and sympathy.

I help because there's someone in front of me being subjected to a great injustice and we're responsible for each other.
If I were helping because I wanted to be a good person, because my heart was moved by compassion or some shit, like, that's basically making it contingent on your mood and level of emotional energy.
And if I have to do it with a cheerful heart and be grateful for the opportunity to help and feel like a good person, well, most days I'm fucking exhausted and cranky and struggling not to despair at the state of the world.

I'd probably help once or twice a year.
So, in conclusion: fuck having a cheerful heart, and fuck the very IDEA of charity.

It doesn't matter what you're feeling. Actions matter. You don't have to enjoy it, be grateful for the opportunity, whatever. We're responsible for each other, the end, feel whatever you feel.
Forget "charity." Do justice.
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