Charity is done for the benefit, assistance, and relief of people in need. For instance, providing the victims of war, natural disasters, epidemics, poverty, with food, shelter, medical assistance, and other basic needs. When carried out selflessly, it is a one-way act where an individual gives and asks for nothing in return. The essay elaborates on this proverb and discusses its different interpretations while answering an important question: Is our interpretation of the proverb flawed?
Charity is a commonly quoted but rarely practiced virtue. Life leaves us with little scope to understand anything beyond the narrow view of our vested interests. We forget that true happiness is beyond the definitions of owning and possessing and that It is the spiritual consciousness of defining various moments in our lives with love, grace, and gratitude.
The proverb ‘Charity Begins at Home’ can be interpreted in two different ways.
The first interpretation is that one’s family comes first and their first duty is for their family and friends whereas the other interpretation is that kids learn charity first in their home.
Charity is an act of humanitarianism that involves providing for the ones in need selflessly. Compassion and empathy shouldn’t be reserved for the ones we know.
People speculate that the phrase ‘Charity Begins at home’ is biblical, but the exact origin is still debated. It is said that this proverb is expressed in the King James Bible, verse 1 Timothy 5:4.
This verse hints towards the second interpretation of the proverb, that one should learn piety at home. It implies that charity doesn’t necessarily mean giving goods or money, sometimes it’s being there for someone when they need someone to talk to, providing them comfort in tough times, even sharing food with the starved is a small act of charity. These minute gestures teach us compassion and empathy.
The same idea was expressed in ‘Of prelates’ in 1382 by John Wyclif whereas the first person to put the phrase in the form we use now was Sir Thomas Browne in Religio Medici, 1642.
Since its existence, our world has been unequal in every way, guaranteeing the existence of rich and poor, strong and weak people living together. While poverty is extreme and widespread, let's not forget just how many rich and wealthy individuals are capable of giving in the developed world. It's high time we need to realize the power we have when pooled together in our hands.
Charity, however, originates from the heart as you feel the urge to give, starts from home, and eventually extends to others in society. Kids learn what they see around them. They absorb and mimic everything their parents or the adults around them do. The best way to teach them compassion and empathy is to practise it around them. Home is the first place where the child’s character and personality are developed and it plays a major role in making them charitable. Showing them the importance of charity at a young age will make them cherish those values when they grow old and also pass them down to their children. We can only teach ourselves the attitude of becoming kind to strangers by being sympathetic to our family.
In conclusion, we can say that the two interpretations of the proverb ‘Charity Begins at Home’ are closely interlinked. Basically, the proverb states that one learns compassion, empathy, and the joy of giving at home, and they perform charity towards their own family, in the first place. It can be something as small as sharing their food or listening to a family member in need, hence a child’s first charity is practised at home. Our prior understanding of the proverb was a bit flawed as it meant that our family is our top priority when it comes to charity. Our family is supposed to be the starting point and not the end of our charity. The proverb figuratively implies that every act of charity begins not in a grand scheme, but in one's home.
The realization that all the areas of life are dependent on one another, provides us with an understanding of how to be charitable. When it comes to health, by eating well, exercising, and sleeping optimally, you practice charity by being kind to yourself. Charity begins at home when it comes to your family, by loving and supporting them unconditionally. You can practice charity when it comes to work by training and mentoring someone at work or serving clients from the heart and not out of obligation or money. Simply listening to a friend is a form of charity, when your friend is in distress. You can be charitable to yourself when it comes to learning by taking time out for your personal development. Finally, by donating whatever you can afford to a charity whose mission resonates deeply within you, you can demonstrate charity when it comes to wealth. An individual has always been able to flaunt, preach, and educate others about the values of human beings who are kind, generous, and charitable. However, if that individual does not practice the same qualities that they preach about in themselves, their actions and words have no value or significance. Thus, we can conclude that If you want to bring about a change in the world, you should first change yourself and your loved ones.
Q1. Does the Proverb ‘Charity begins at home’ mean that we should Prioritize Our Family First When it comes to Charity?
Ans. No, when it comes to charity, the first ones on the list should be the ones who genuinely need it the most, not your family or whom you love the most. One can help others in need without depriving their family, it is very much possible. Compassion and empathy don’t come with eligibility criteria and they shouldn’t. The phrase hints towards the idea that the best way to instill the values of compassion in a child is to surround them with the idea at their home itself. As already mentioned in the essay, ‘Our family is supposed to be the starting point and not the end of our charity.’
Q2. Are only rich People Capable of doing Charity?
Ans. No, one has to be rich only in terms of compassion and empathy when it comes to charity. Charity does not mean only donating money. It can include a service or giving things or food to the ones who desperately need them. It can be something as minute as providing someone with days worth of food or clothes to cover themselves. It can include listening to someone in distress. One does not need to be a millionaire to be compassionate. The charity also means providing a child with education or taking care of a pup in need. It’s not limited to humans, it is not limited to donating money. All it takes is the will and ability to empathize and be compassionate.