Saturday, July 24, 2004

Beggars and Choosers

I have just this evening been told by Perry de Havilland that it is imperative to post daily. Several times if at all possible. I realised I’ve been neglecting the blog – not through want of love for it, but because of my inherent perfectionism and tending to take days to actually write something I’m finally happy with. Leaving it untouched for days simply isn’t on – I’ll have an insurrection on my hands and you’ll all leave me alone to babble to myself in a corner. Clearly, something must be done.

So if you’ll bear with entries that aren’t as polished as usual, I can manage the daily(ish) rant. Here’s today’s -

Yesterday, C and I were on our way to the National Portrait Gallery for an evening lecture from Sara Wheeler, author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica as part of the Three Centuries of Women Travellers exhibit. The lecture itself had some interesting points, although I was disappointed by the author’s constant need to obtain cheap laughs from the audience by peppering her halting tale with obligatory anti-man jokes. There are only so many times you can chuckle at the use of the word ‘testosterone’.

Anyhow, in one of the interminable underground walkways connecting tube stations, we came across a man who was huddled in the corner with a sign: ‘Hungry, please help.’ I noticed C slow down, but was swept along myself by the rush-hour crowd. When she caught up with me, I saw a wry smile on her face.

Apparently, she had read the sign and stopped to offer him her packed dinner. Not a shabby dinner either – a flat bread stuffed with freshly grilled salmon, avocado and salad. The man, however, had refused as he was a vegetarian.

Now, correct me if I’m completely wrong here – but vegetarianism is a moral choice for most people, not a physical requirement for survival. That moral choice usually hinges on some belief that animals are equal to humans and that it’s cruel to eat them. I have severe – SEVERE – problems with those who think that humans and animals are the same. If someone wants to believe that they are no better than a slug, so be it. Don’t apply it to me though.

Nevertheless, this man was starving, wasn’t he? So by not taking the food he was essentially saying that he values a salmon’s (or cow’s, or pig’s … or whatever’s) life above his own. He would rather hold out for someone to give him cash so that he can head to Pret a Manger for a vegetarian baguette and a double espresso.

I myself try to avoid wheat and milk because they’re not particularly good for me – but if I were starving, I’d take a hamburger and milkshake to sustain myself. I can only understand this man’s attitude if eating animal flesh is somehow severely physically detrimental to him. If he’s just doing it to save the whales then perhaps Darwinism can claim a deserving victim.

What on earth is it that makes people think they can demand the constituents of alms granted to them?

The one thing I can say for him is that at least he was just begging, rather than mugging us as is the government’s regular wont to do. Where it was his (stupid) prerogative to refuse the very thing he actually needed and demand something else to satisfy his whim, it is not a prerogative that is open to those who are on government assistance.

This is why I can’t stand to read of people not satisfied with the standard of government housing , government provided childcare or whining about social services being provided in a way that’s not sensitive to their particular bent . To my thinking, they’re damned lucky that they obtain anything at all.

Don’t like the housing? Start paying market rates of rent like the rest of us and you can choose from a variety that will stagger you.

Don’t like the childcare? Either don’t breed or pay for your own goddamned sprog.

Don’t like the way social services are delivered to you? Don’t take any.

Better yet, throw social services out the window and ask me directly for what you need. I’ll see what I can spare.

M

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