CARE supporter Robert Scott kindly submitted this poem about the notion that ‘charity begins at home’.
Mr Scott said: ‘For some time I’ve been concerned by the common misuse of the expression “charity begins at home”. It is frequently used as a reason (or excuse) to avoid or reduce aid or donations to disadvantaged people outside of Australia.’
We’ll see such sorrow should we roam,
ill-served by ‘charity-begins-at-home’,
when ‘home’ is such a privileged place
with rich rewards and peaceful space
and opportunities well-found
and institutions strong and sound,
superior services and care
and lifestyles envied everywhere.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee
that life is cosy and care-free ,
and all have happiness and hope,
or all are well or all can cope,
but there’s a contrast, crystal-clear;
we’re not condemned to live in fear,
oppressed by tyranny or war,
with no protection and no law,
nor do we need to stay exposed
to savage elements imposed,
with no respite and no retreat
from crippling cold or searing heat,
where destitution is entrenched
and eyes are sunk and stomachs clenched,
and squalor is a way of life,
with water soiled and disease rife.
By birth, we’re blessed beyond the dreams
of those assailed by shots and screams,
or fates, from which they can’t escape,
of abject need, abuse and rape,
and suffering beyond belief
with no recourse and no relief
from plaintive pleas to gods-unknown
with hearing-loss or hearts-of-stone.
Even those in wealthy lands.
with education or skilled hands,
can be de-railed along the track
by any kind of life-attack
that leaves them in some hapless zone,
depressed, or homeless and alone,
or in some awful way impaired
and rendered sorrowful and scared-
And all of them deserve due care
by contributions we can spare,
but don’t our instincts tend to teach
concern should have the widest reach?
Pain and plight are not reduced
because they are elsewhere induced-
Humanity can’t be confined
by boundaries that we’ve defined,
excluding those, with most to fear,
who are not blessed by being here.
‘Begins-at-home’ has been misused,
intended meaning much abused.
It does not seek to separate;
the message merely means to state,
if, at home, we fail to care,
we’ll be uncaring anywhere.
Charity must be widely spread,
embracing all who live in dread,
where danger lurks or need is great,
and where compassion can not wait.