Friday, May 20, 2005

social justice mathematics

An interesting thing happened after grabbing something to eat the other night. I wanted something for desert as well, so I decided to walk down to Robson St. and have a three dollar gelatto. On my way there, I passed an old man, homeless, hungry, and begging for change. I was about to cross the street, and paused for a moment. Instead of getting a three dollar gelatto, I could give the homeless man $2, and go to McDonalds for a one dollar cone, and I would come out roughly even. So, of the three dollars I was prepared to part with that evening, I made the decision to neglect spending it all on an overpriced Italian ice cream cone, in favour of giving two thirds of it to help this man.

It also gives me pause to think how ignorant all of use who live in relative comfort are of our good fortune. We go out for our three dollar cones and fifteen dollar dinners while were could purchase a similar meal elsewhere for much less. Conversely, homeless folks nourish themselves, if you could even call it that, by eating from dumpsters.

I know that the two dollars I gave this man wouldn't have gone very far, and that it does nothing to address the systemic problem of extreme poverty in our downtown ghettos. Yet, I am glad I a decided to make an economically and socially just decision on the spur of the moment.