The poor widow's offering

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The New York Times reported on a Berkeley study that showed that rich people are less altruistic than the poor are. The study found that

lower-income people were more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful to others than were those with more wealth. They were more attuned to the needs of others and more committed generally to the values of egalitarianism.
The article goes on to say that
Empathy and compassion appeared to be the key ingredients in the greater generosity of those with lower incomes. And these two traits proved to be in increasingly short supply as people moved up the income spectrum.
When reading about this phenomenon, I am reminded of the story of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4:
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."

2 comments:

Jon said...

I remember talking a few years ago to an Australian social historian who was writing a history of some of Australia's big public housing developments, and who also grew up in one. He had the idea that middle class people are more compassionate in theory - they will argue for the rights of minorities and support affirmative action, but are nervous about actually living next door to a minority person. He said working class people are the reverse - in theory they tend to be prejudiced and intolerant and talk in terms of stereotypes, but in practice are a lot more tolerant and compassionate with their neighbours and people they know personally. A bit like the two sons in Jesus' parable - the one who said he would obey and didn't, the other who refused then went and did it.

CT said...

That's really interesting.
Middle class know how they should behave (usually they have more education) but wealth makes them more protective of what they have got.

A shame but it makes sense.