Knitters and compassion

I am so sadened to hear the voices inthe thread about panhandlers that I thought I should start my own thread.

see I’m a grad student in education and my advisor thinks it would be a great idea to write about knitting and education. I’m a feminist and I believe in educating adults to be enlightened witnessess to the oppressive culture of domination we live in and use educaiton to make positive changes in our lives. That’s what MLK was all about. He was trying to build a Beloved Community of people who could see how our culture was killing our spirit and he worked to educate us to have compassion for one another to create a better world.

I want to study knitting groups and how they learn to develop compassionfor one another andfor thse in thier communities (by knitting blankets, hats, etc)

Now that may be mushy for some of you but for me I believe its possible. You see I see panhandlers on the side of the road and I feel compassion for them. It is not my place to judge them. THey are there for whatever reason. If they feel like stealing money or asking for it is the only way they know how to make it in this world then who am I to judge? I mean they are standing out there in the cold and the rain, all day, breathing in car fumes and what not. While I get to drive past them to buy wholesome food to eat in my warm house. Who am I to judge? If anything they need our love and compassion, not our scorn. Scorn is probably what got them in thier situation in the first place.

And using terms like “those people” removes ourselves from them and thier plight. We could all become homeless, disabled or any number of unfortunate situations at any minute. Who are we to judge? I mean we are all stuck on thisplanet together. If Marsians came down to take over, they don’t care who is homeless or black or gay or whatever. They will take us ALL. So as human beings all we have is this planet and each other. We need to take care of one another and care for one another becasue we are all we have.

OK I’m coming off my soap box and taking a deep breath.


:hug: Amen!

I think that we have all become cynical. It’s not necessarily that we lack compassion.

My dh is in law enforcement, and I used to work at a law enforcement agency where I saw every arrest record that came through that place. You would just be amazed at the amount of fraud and deception that goes on in one tiny corner of the world (I do not live in a very big city).

I don’t think everyone is judgmental. People are just cautious.

I’ve heard of people who offered to give someone a sack of food, but the person does not want that. They want money. Who’s to say if they are going to spend it on alcohol or drugs? Should we be contributing to their addiction?

There are so many charity organizations and churches around that are more than willing to help destitute people. I’m sure that pride keeps many from entering those doors. But still…

I think your paper will be wonderful, and you sound like a person with the most gentle of hearts.


Good words, feministmama! :thumbsup:

And I’d like to add a little to the subject: When a panhandler asks for money…if you don’t want to give money…or if you truly have no cash money either…just say no. Don’t offer an alternative. Offering an alternative ‘gift’ can give offense to a panhandler. They didn’t ask for food, they asked for money. Politely say no…or say nothing at all…and no eye-rolling…and move on…and judge not.

That’s my 2 cents worth. :shrug:

I hope I don’t get into trouble for offering my 2 cents.
No offense intended towards anyone. My 2 cents is just worth about that much! Two cents. I’m not posting as a repercussion to anyone else’s 2 cents worth.

While we have some panhandlers in our town, there aren’t that many. My children got an eye-opening experience when we were in Portland (OR) last month and saw many many (in comparison to where we live) panhandlers on the streets. We’ve had some very frank discussions about them and how they may have gotten into those situations. I’ve had to answer questions like, “Why don’t they just go get a job” and “Don’t they have someone, anyone, that they can live with.” Those are hard questions. But I try to answer them with compassion and understanding. I always remind them of my favorite Elvis quote, “Don’t judge a man, son, unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” Which of course reminds me of the Elvis we saw in Portland down on Burnside St who had his guitar and amplifier and stood out singing Elvis songs for coins in his guitar case.

We talk openly and honestly about poverty and its many forms.

I like how you are studying the compassion of knitters. What an excellent idea!

Excellent words! I know people who say, “Well, if I give him money he’s just going to go drink it all.” OK, so? But he may go buy a sandwich or food or a jacket at Goodwill or his bus fare to get to the homeless shelter. I rarely give any money, only because I don’t carry cash often. I have given a jacket to a homeless guy once. I had an old jacket of dh’s in the backseat and it was that horrible sleeting rain that we sometimes get and he had nothing on but a t-shirt. He was quite thankful and it was totally impulsive.

I couldn’t agree more with you, feministmama. Compassion has a chance of changing the world - cynicism and judgment will never do anything useful.

Your subject is absolutely fascinating. It would be a great subject for a magazine don’t you think? I would love to read about a subject like that! :cheering:

One thing I’m wondering is the “kind” of compassion people develop. As you say, knitting groups, as any communities, allow people to develop compassion for one another. Which is awesome! But does it help to develop compassion for other groups, that can be far from them? I suppose knitters are representative of the society, so I would think some are more compassionate than others about different groups. But I know for me, I think I do have more compassion to homeless people now that I’m a knitter. Knitting deals mostly with making items that are warm and comfortable. Items that are essential to survive here in the winter. These are things I can easily knit, and that can make all the difference in the world. Because knitting has to do with an essential need of human beings, I think it did give me the opportunity to see situations with a different eye.

Anyways, just wanted to share with you my thoughts on the subject! :teehee:

Ever since I took up knitting, I think of my dad. After he died in 2001, I found out that he used to go out and distributed gloves to the homeless on the street. I never, ever knew that about him. One day, after I learn how to make them, I would like to carry on my dad’s giving.

I do think that is one great thing about knitting. It provides a practical outlet to exercise compassion. We give without expecting anything in return and to people who, most of the time, cannot offer anything in return.

I heard this story from one of my student: She was with some friends going to a bar when they were stopped by a homeless person asking for spare change. One of her friends said “No way, you’re just going to go use it to get drunk” What irony. So they “deserve” to go drinking but a homeless person doesn’t.

What a nice story. I love stuff like this.:heart:

Is there compassion in here for born again Christians?

Is there tolerance for our beliefs, just like there is tolerance for the beliefs and practices of Muslims, Hindus, new agers of all kinds,
Show me the love. I care about each of you, and I post my views in here, yet, I get very little support.
Think about why that is.
If you all have compassion and caring, then why do you kill other humans, but save whales?
Why spay feral cats, spending lots of money on that, btw, instead of
focusing on education homeless panhandlers?
If a person has an education, and a supportive family, that loves them and shows them “how to fish, instead of handing them a fish”,
that person can build a business or organization that will be able to offer free education, supplies, foods, clothes, for people who have been told they are forever victims, and must live their lives being prostituted out, either by panhandling for someone else, or by selling their body.
This lie of being a victim needs to stop.
Instead of being perpetrated endlessly, the victim mentality needs to be stopped.
Some of you in here have no compassion for me, one who advocates and practices “if a man/woman won’t work, they should not eat”, which, the roots are of love for homeless people.
I feel for homeless people, but, I don’t have the money to educate them all or to teach them all useful skills. I have what I have, which is the ability to enlighten others in the ways of self-sufficiency.
Self-sufficiency is liberating.
Feminists yelled that for years. Get mom away from her children, away from her awful, oppressive husband, and make her earn a paycheck, and NOT be the victim.
I agree. Get people away from oppressive, lying manipulative society which tells them they are entitled to have someone else “take care” of them forever, and teach them how to be NON-victims.
How to take care of themselves.
WHY HAVE REHAB centers, if your goal is to keep the panhandlers dependent upon others?
Why do some people need to keep others tied to their “apron strings” in order to feel useful?
I think you are more useful if you help a panhandler get UP and learn useful coping mechanisms, learn how to handle tough situations in life, learn how to get themselves independent.
Answer this:
What is wrong with a person being self sufficient, and independent, and making their own decisions? What’s wrong with a person being free of government handouts, and feeling pride and strength and self confidence, because they own their own home, or apt. pay their own bills, buy their own food, and have worked hard to bring themselves up out of destitution?
Answer: nothing is wrong with that.
If liberals are so compassionate, then educate the homeless, cut the umbilical cord of freebies, if they insist on being a panhandler, after being educated and given some decent clothes and dental care.
If you are so compassionate, then LIFT the burden of oppression you have placed upon them, and get your foot off their backs, and let them have dignity, and an honest way to earn money.

What a wonderful man your father was! :heart: A totally compassionate human being. Thanks for sharing his story with us!

Why would someone roll their eyes at a panhandler? That’s passive aggressive behavior, and judgementalism.
I agree, just say no. And hope they back off.

Interesting comment. What kinds of compassion are there?
How many different kinds of compassion exist?

How can you tell if someone is more compassionate than another, without being judgemental?

And, if you do decide someone is less compassionate than someone else, what is the remedy for the less compassionate person?

Please believe me when I say that I’m writing this with all due respect, and not a bit of argumentativeness.
My husband and I have spayed/neutered a colony of feral cats in our neighborhood, and continue to feed and care for them. I do this because I LOVE these cats as if they were my own children. I’ve just always had a huge place in my heart for the homeless, abandoned animals of this world. This is something that is extremely important to me, and while I can’t save every single one of them, I can at least help the ones on my street.

Anyway, the only reason I say this is because it’s not only liberals who do this. I’m a Christan, a conservative, and I vote republican. But I still love animals, and try to care for them when I can. Not only liberals do this. I haven’t helped many homless people, because I live in a small town, and don’t remember ever seeing anyone panhandling. I can’t say what I’d do in that case, because I’ve never been face with it.

I hope I’m not making a mess of this, because I don’t wish to argue at all. I can’t argue a point if I’ve never been faced with the decision. I think I was just pointing out, that you can’t just lump people into catagories, by saying that if you love animals, you are a liberal. Please PM me anytime if you want to talk further. I’m not offended, and I hope I didn’t just offend you.

I don’t believe anyone in this forum should tag her/himself or others as a religious/conservative/liberal etc. as a reason of doing things for others. I think we all can help other people or animals in need, without “despite” and “only liberals…”. When a homeless receives a meal or a dog gets a home, they don’t care who you are. All they know is that you’re compassionate. And each individual should be as compassionate as she/he can. I can’t bring food to the homeless, because i try not to spend too much on my own food. But i did take 2 cats, one from the street and one who could end there and a dog that was injured and could’ve probably end up in the shelter. I don’t want to be tagged as “liberal” or “conservative”. I’m doing the best i can. I think a person that truly loves animals truly understands compassion, because they can’t talk or panhandle. If talking to my 14-year old neighbor about the results of having unprotected sex at that age with a 25-year old guy, helps her in not doing it, then i’m happy because i helped someone and didn’t stand and watch from the side how someone’s life gets ruined.
I hope we can all keep being just human beings, in the best part of it and not the worst that we get to see on TV every day.

Getting of my soapbox now…

[SIZE=1][B]I posted this in another OT topic, but this thread was also cited by members so it applies here as well:[/B][/SIZE]

Hey everyone.

A few members have brought this thread to my attention with concern for the direction it is heading. Please keep your discussion civil and friendly and constructive. People are bound to have disagreements and that is fine. However attacking, condemning, and/or mocking other members beliefs and ideals is not OK here. If this thread continues to head in that direction is will get “da lock!” So please keep it nice.



I, too, believe that you don’t have to be liberal to love animals, or conservative to have faith. I think that, if we can just try to help each other out a little bit along the way then we’re doing well.

I’m one of those people that lives on state benefits. It’s taken me a long time to not be ashamed of it, and I’m still not all the way there. Because of various disabilities I am unable to work, but they’re ‘invisible’ disabilities and little-understood ones. While there are specialists that understand my condition, average doctors tend to think I’m just whining. If the incapacity benefit reform comes, it’s people like me that will be screwed. I got sick at 19, before I had paid any national insurance, before I’d had a proper job. I am glad that I live in a society where financial aid is available to the sick, because otherwise I would have been one of those people who didn’t deserve to eat. I would have been homeless, starved and died, and I am aware constantly that there are many countries in the world where that would have been my short life. I feel lucky, not just because of my experience, to live in a society where we help the sick and the disadvantaged, where they are not left to suffer and die if they don’t have the resources, financial, physical or mental, to support themselves. I think it is the mark of a civilised society. I am fully aware of the people who abuse the system, they are the ones that give people like me a bad name, but their numbers are small in comparison to the number of people saved by the system.

Most of us who live on these benefits would love the chance at a normal life, would like to be able to moan about our jobs and get the sense of achievement when we got a paycheque. I avoid reunions and suchlike because I don’t want people to see me as one of those people you read about in the papers whenever politicians want to use incapacity benefit as something to get outraged about. It’s easy to say scrap the system when you don’t rely on it, but - to be blunt - you never know when you’re going to have to. I was supposed to be an award winning physicist by now, not someone living off the state with no job and no hope.

I admire self-sufficiency, I think it’s a great thing to aspire to, but, in evolutionary terms, human society is built to rely on each other. We build on each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to form a cohesive whole, each bringing something different to the mix. Some manage while some create, some get things done while others help people with the transitions. Trying to do it all yourself is a great idea, but a lot of pressure when we are built to help each other out. If anything, I think our society is still too far towards isolation - self-worth is based on the job you do and the status you have, instead of what you are like as a human being. I may not be able to work, I may not be a physicist, but I listen when my friends need me, I help out when I can, I create and love and hope. It would be better if those qualities could be valued as much as our money-earning capabilities, as they are as necessary - not so much towards buying food to nourish the body, but in nourishing the soul. Everyone brings something different to the table, some more than others, some more obviously than others, but everyone has something to give, and it’s in that exchange of giving and receiving that we are human.

Here’s an interesting link I stumbled across