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"When we feed the poor, they call us saints. When we ask why they are poor, they call...

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worthyhands | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM via web

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"When we feed the poor, they call us saints. When we ask why they are poor, they call communists."  What does this quote mean?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM (Answer #1)

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This quote is saying that people in our society are hypocritical.  It is saying that they approve of helping poor people on a small-scale basis, but they do not approve of trying to end poverty altogether.

The first part of it says that individual acts of charity are met with approval.  If you help individual poor people, you are seen as a very good person.  The second part says that trying to fix the system that causes poverty is not met with approval.  Instead, it is seen as an attempt to subvert our entire economic system.

According to this quote, then, we are hypocritical in that we think it is good for people to help the poor individually, but that it is bad to try to end poverty in general.  Of course, this is one person's point of view and many people would disagree with the ideas behind the statement you give here.

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