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I recently had a good discussion on one of the libertarian pages I frequent. Their post was about Alyssa Milano, the actress, giving charity to illegal immigrants while firefighters had their homes burn down while protecting others. I commented, “The two are unrelated. Also, as I understand the libertarian position, charity is a personal activity that the individual decides on. Not saying she’s making the wise choice, but it’s her choice. Illegal or not, they are desperately in need of charity. The firefighters’ homes are likely insured, but as firefighters they are much more likely to get charity or have the mans to get their homes replaced.”
Someone asked a great question about this, “Just as an added thought to your assumptions, why is it ok for someone doing something illegal to get charity? Why is it ok to send money to people who are literally trying to get free shit already?”
I thought I would share the response because it ended up delving into the matter of charity and human worth.
“That’s a great question. The answer isn’t short.
I personally think that’s up to each individual to decide. I don’t think that one’s behavior (bad behavior ostensibly) instantly robs them of being worth someone’s care and concern. So each person answers your question for themselves. “why is it ok for someone doing something illegal to get charity?”
The answers to that are many. One might turn around and ask the inverse, “why does it mean someone isn’t worthy of charity just because they have done something illegal?” Certainly people give to homeless people all the time and as a group they are prone to burglary and theft. Does the person who gives a dollar to a homeless burglar support their burglary or are they trying to help them? Does that even matter if we take Ayn Rand’s view that charity isn’t so much about the recipient as it is the giver’s desire to give?
Why is illegal activity the measure of a person? Many libertarians think that marijuana should be legal. It isn’t. But I bet many would give charity to someone arrested for it. Why? Because they think that it’s a dumb law. Well, many people think that the treatment of illegals at the border is a dumb law as well. So they look at something other than legality to decide just as is the case with marijuana and I bet other laws. Laws and morality are not the same. Also, morality and legality don’t create the value of a human being or their worthiness for charity. Often it is the very state in which they find themselves that prompts others to give.
It’s actually a statistical fact that the majority of illegal immigrants to America actually do work and pay taxes so the concept of their “literally trying to get free shit” is suspect and makes a broad assumption about the people entering. I doubt many Americans would have the gumption to leave home and travel thousands of miles facing hostility and deprivation just to get some “free shit”. Waiting in line at GameStop overnight is pushing it…
Great question! I’m very glad you asked it.”
Even though I suspect they were being a little sarcastic, I really was glad they asked the question. It immediately caused my mind to ponder the charity itself. I content that charity and service get confused. I do it too. I think that charity is an emotion which leads to service. Service is the thing that most people call charity. How much charity we feel for a person decides the service. It being a libertarian page I also thought this was interesting as they advocate for a society where taxation is done away with and society operates entirely on what people are willing to give. I think this entire thing highlights that not everyone will see all things equally in terms of what they want to give their money to.
For me, I do not think that a human is not worth serving just because they are doing some bad things. Granted, I might make the choice not to give money to someone I know who is going to waste it. But there are other ways I can help that person. But the fact that they can’t manage money doesn’t meant hey aren’t worthy of something helpful or kind.
Those coming across the border, illegal or not, are people either fleeing something bad or seeking something good. There’s a reason that they have made this arduous journey that I think bears examination before judgement. Certainly I advocate for protection of our borders but I also advocate for charity and human kindness. I think it’s a little sad that people see these two things as mutually exclusive when they are so clearly not.