Thought For The Day #2408 May 2014
Broadcast 8th of May 2014 on BBC Radio Bristol
As we’ve been hearing, the topic of beggars in Bath has come up again. I work in Bath and pass beggars most days. I don’t have a problem with them. In fact, if I’m honest, my heart doesn’t go out to them any more than the locals and tourists. I’ve come to learn that you just can’t judge someone’s inner world by their outer appearance.
Just because someone looks well-dressed and works in an office doesn’t mean they’re any better off in their heart. Working a soulless computer job nine to five might seem like a privilege, but if you’re childhood traumas prevent you from overcoming a debilitating depression then what does it matter?
What is most interesting about the beggars in Bath is the contrast they create against the city’s culture of wealth. I feel like I’m being pulled into a cliche — that the upper classes look down on the lower classes, and that I should think that’s arrogant of them. Of course there may be truth in that, but if I just mindlessly follow that train of thought then it’s no better than the knee-jerk reaction that all beggars are lazy.
The class debate is an old one and all too easy to throw opinions at. Personally I think there are harder questions we should be asking ourselves. Like, aren’t billboard adverts of half-naked women a form of begging? Or on a much larger scale, shouldn’t we admit that the incontrovertible evidence of climate change is the environment’s way of begging for attention? These are difficult questions that affect us all, regardless of social status.