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I'm not a person with a strong religious background. My parents have dubious ties to both Catholic and Protestant faiths, but they didn't raise me into it. What I was raised into, was a sense of community and duty to that community. We raise up the smallest. We protect the most vulnerable. We feed and clothe the poor.

These are not necessarily religious values, but they are shared by many faiths and denominations. And it's why it absolutely burns me inside to see this kind of thing. Well-dressed white middle class people ignoring the problems literally standing right in front of them. You have an opportunity to help those in need and you're standing around handing otu pamphlets to people who don't want them. (And if you've ever lived in the city, these people can get really pushy and bothersome if they think they have your attention)

I'm a student, and an art student at that (it's like double-poor! Yay!) and yet soemhow, at the end of the day, I can still scrape a bit in my budget to drop some change in a cup or buy a sandwich and coffee for those in need. I don't do it because I think I'm going to heaven, or because I get to pat myself on teh back for being such an awesome person. I do it because they're hungry and it's the right thing to do. Until British Columbia pulls its head out of its ass and actually deals with the issues of hunger and poverty, there's going to be homeless people and they're going to need food.

No amount of pamphlets or morally superior tut-tutting will change that.

EDIT: and let it be said, I am not condemning all Witnesses everywhere. there is no need. I do not believe that all Witnesses are bad, or that the actions fo these WItnesses represent all Witnesses. But I am certainly condemning the actions of these Witnesses, in this instance, right here. This was bad form, by these specific people.* They had an opportunity staring them in the face and they chose to ignore it. The actions or inactions fo other Witnesses are irrelevant to this conversation.

They didn't even have to be Witnesses. There are lots of other self-righteous pamphlet-givers out there. Mormons, Scientologists, Evangelists, etc. And if it were Mormons handing out pamphlets and ignoring poverty, I would be calling those Mormons to task for hypocrisy as well.
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:iconimtheartisan:
imtheartisan Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014
you may not be religious (same here) but you're smart, dedicated and talented... and this is a great combination to reach the Top... double poor?!? don't think so... I have faith in you, pretty sure that someday I will see your work here in a finest museum in Mexico :D


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:iconventel:
Ventel Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Just out of curiosity, but how do you know that the witnesses did not donate something to the homeless man before you took the picture?
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2014
You're right, I do have no absolute, 100% proof that they do not donate. I only have the information that I've gathered so far:

1) I commute, so I use the station a lot. They're there all day every day. From morning to night.

2) They interact a lot with commuters and tourists.

3) The only interaction I have seen them (Either at Granville, Stadium or Commercial) have with the homeless is snub-face or pretending they don't exist.

Who knows, maybe after hours they pull a complete 180 and take them out for coffee and pizza? I don't know, but while they're on pamphlet duty, I have not witnessed any aid during my frequent travels. I cannot guarantee that they have never helped. It's just my personal, and likely biased observations. ('cause, you know, I'm human and flawed and opinionated and all that)
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:iconventel:
Ventel Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Have you ever spoken to the homeless people or witnesses about it?
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:iconthetiedtigress:
TheTiedTigress Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I have known people who will *NOT* take charity or help from religious organizations/people or even the government, despite being in dire straits. Since you commute so often, why not ask the homeless man if those witnesses have tried to help him?
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:iconsmjester:
SMJester Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2014
I tend to respect the people of the cloth who are standing serving in the soup kitchens when it comes to battling hunger.  I'm pretty picky with whom I give money to, and if its not an organization that is out in the streets doing stuff for people who need it, they get nothing from me. 

Neither do panhandlers.  I've seen too man panhandlers take my money and run off to the liquor store, and I don't like enabling poverty in that manner.  Though, I did pick up a good trick for panhandlers from a good man of the cloth who does stuff for them, he recommended getting gift cards to grocers and restaurants to carry.  If they are truly hungry and in need, they will accept those... 

Poverty is a complex issue after all.  Some actions of government, social justice, philanthropy, and charity work both ways to combat and enable.  Discerning between the two is a challenge, and is largely based on the individuals involved (one reason I'm critical of government interventions, as the track record in that regard is abysmal one size fits all solutions). 

Keep doing what you are doing.  If anything, your personal discernment and convictions are more important and meaningful.
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:iconeverviciousyuna:
EverViciousYuna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
My church mostly invites people to community bbq and things like that. We help build homes and have a food pantry so that if someone needs food we can give it to them. The best way to reach people is through love and kindness.
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:iconmadmangamer364:
Madmangamer364 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014
A touchy subject, to say the least, but I think I can respect where you're coming from. Even though I'm a person of faith,  I'm not sure if I'm qualified to touch on the religious aspects of your entry. I can neither confirm what you saw or what those Witnesses were doing, prior to, or after the time you encountered them. What touches me the most about your message is one that is simpler in nature: doing the right thing.

I think it's a quality we all hope to have, but for some reason or another, many have made the concept so complicated, it's hard to recognize an opportunity to act, even when it's starring them in the face. It's not just an issue with British Columbia but a worldwide problem we're talking about. "Doing what's right" has become a very tough thing for the average person to do, and that's what we as people, regardless of our religious background (or lack thereof), need to address with one another and ourselves internally. I'm aware that part of the reason people don't reach out to others enough these days is because of an increased sense of fear that comes with dealing with strangers in the modern age. Nevertheless, we as a whole have to do better.

Sure, life can be challenging these days, and even worse, a lot of people do have egos when it comes to offering a hand, thinking they need something in return for their services. That's the honest truth. Still, we as individuals, not as people waiting for government help or some divine intervention, have to obtain a way of seeing and thinking that allows us to actually be useful to those in need. Instead, there are some blind eyes being turned, and a lot of doom-and-gloom being preached. It's like, "what exactly kind of message are you trying to send here, and who do you think you're helping?"
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:icontwistedsynapses:
TwistedSynapses Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
What I see is a man who is probably ignored by hundreds of passers by every day, opposite a convenient scapegoat for our own personal guilt.
They're not the problem. That's our community and we, as a whole, tolerate it.
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:iconlaetherys:
Laetherys Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Can I just say that I have loved all three of your most recent journal entries. Seriously, I have agreed wholeheartedly with every word you've written. It's such a comfort to know that there are people out there in different regions of the world, who come from different backgrounds than I, yet who also think much the same way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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:iconin-sanejoker:
In-saneJoker Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I think there is a difference between being a passerby JW or whatever else, and actually standing there handing out pamphlets to promote 'goodness' etc. etc. while ignoring someone in need in front of you.

I think people are taking this a bit to heart as if it's about them, and it's not about them. It's about the people in the picture who claim to be doing the lord's work and spreading peace and whatnot.

I don't care if no one really knows what happened, we all know that there are too many people in religious power who take advantage of others and don't actually do anything they tell us to do (be kind to others, help those in need). It's a reality that saddens me, and a reality that believers try to ignore. Yes, not all are like this, but enough are to the point this really could be some religious people ignoring the man in front of them. That is the whole point of the image: a reminder that though these people may have helped, we all know there are people like this who really would ignore that man and really do exist. It is those people we need to scold and try to explain to them what they're doing is wrong.
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:iconbanenascent:
BaneNascent Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another. There are a lot of people who just don't love other people, they are more afraid of meeting their own needs and any responsibility to anybody else overwhelms their self preservative desire. It's usually with faith that you can reach out and help another person without being over run with fear. Judgement comes into it too, we hold grudges against anybody who can't support themselves and needs any kind of help. But when we pull together as a society and help each other we are collectively stronger. But to do that, you need to be able to love.
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:iconwalternonames:
walternonames Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
People are just people and, the fact that you have a religion doesn't make you perfect. We just have to respect and understand that and make the difference by acting the way we feel is right, just like you say you are doing.
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:icondannica63:
Dannica63 Featured By Owner Edited Sep 10, 2014
I don't know these people, but ... neither do you.  Perhaps they are deserving of all the hypocrisy you are crediting them with, or perhaps not.  Maybe they did talk to that man before or after you showed up on the scene and offered him some aid, or maybe not.  Unless you were there the whole time you just don't know.  But just because someone doesn't give how or when you think they should doesn't mean that they aren't.

I'm a mormon and I very much relate to that sense of community and the accompanying duty to it you mention, but you'd be unlikely to see me giving money to someone on the street (although there are times I have) for multiple reasons.  To start with, my community has an extremely high drug presence and personally I'd much rather support the local soup kitchen where I know the money will go to help feed those who need it, rather than paying for someone to get high.  In addition, I very rarely carry any kind of cash on me these days so without actively planning to have money on hand in case I run into someone, I honestly can't.  As things are, I prefer to donate my time and money towards programs that aim to not only give a man a fish, but also teach him to fish and where a good fishing spot is and maybe loan him a boat to get there as well.  My local church is always running some sort of food or item drive geared toward the specific needs of our area (and there are a lot), but walking by the building you're unlikely to see any of that.  But just because you don't see something in passing doesn't mean it isn't there.

So when I look at that picture I find it ironic and sad, but it's a frozen moment in time with no before or after, unlike the people in it.  Calling them out for not doing what you think they should have is something that should have happened in the moment when you had the opportunity to get the whole story, and when it perhaps could have done something to help.  After the fact...what real purpose does it serve?  It doesn't help that man in the picture, and just adds to the bitterness on both sides of the religious/non-religious divide. :(

Edited to add: And this isn't to say that hypocrisy shouldn't be called out - because it should!  It's something that I think everyone has to watch out for.  But calling someone out for hypocrisy through the internet when it's unlikely they'll ever run across it just seems pointless to me.  If you're going to do it, do it in the moment when there's a chance that you'll actually be able to influence them and make them rethink their actions.  Or perhaps they'll share the story behind their actions and you'll get to be the one rethinking.  Either way, it opens the door for communication rather than slamming it shut with a quick judgment that may or may not be accurate.
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:icongreensprite:
GreenSprite Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014
You know, I used to think like you do: "I'd give more money to the poor if I knew they didn't waste it on booze or drugs". Then I read more about drugs, addiction and how difficult/impossible it is to give up certain drugs without medical help and social support. I also read more on human nature. I figured out the way my brain works when I'm at my worst - our natural instinct is to hook on what makes us feel better immediately, even if it's bad for us on the long term. This instinct is pretty hard to resist even for an educated person who doesn't use illegal drugs and has some social support behind her. For someone on the streets? Probably impossible.

What I'm getting at is, if you don't give money to a drug user, it won't make him stop. To stop you need a plan, strong determination, resources to help you. Most of all you need to be educated enough to know you should stop, and how. Most people on the street have none of that. Unless you give money specifically to a charity that helps them quit and make a life for themselves, the only actual result of not giving *them* money is making them more unhappy.
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:iconidasouth:
idaSouth Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I never reply to anything, but personally- that was the most well said comment i have ever read. I am Serious right now.
Also, I completely agree with you about you and your churches methods on taking care of the less fortunate. I currently live in hawaii and there's a huge homeless population but similar to your area, many of the homeless where i am are drug abusers.
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:iconagentknopf:
AgentKnopf Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014
I absolutely agree with what you said! We also have JWs standing around the train stations. Most of the time they just stand around holding their pamphlets, sometimes they approach you, sometimes not. I also knew a JW personally and he told me that he is getting regular training and stuff! I was surprised to hear that, as the most important thing when living your beliefs (at least to my mind) is to actually help others, live your life in a good way etc. not spend a lot of time on seminars that teach you how to con others into joining your religion. Some may say "con" is a strong word, but honestly: If you can't talk from your heart, but instead are trained to convince people - then what exactly is it you're doing? Its a vast subject, so lets just say: I really like what you wrote!
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:iconxxnerd101xx:
xXnerd101Xx Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I was raised a JW, and part of the reason why my parents, brother, and I left that religion was specifically because of the people. Even we were judged by the families in our church because we weren't "doing our best". There are several religious people out there, witnesses included, that are like that. In fact, too many are like that. There aren't enough of those out there who are legitimately kindhearted, and who really want the best for everyone instead of seeing who has the most hours on a time card. Sorry for the smallish rant on a bigger rant post thing. And to anyone religious who reads this, I apologize if I offended you or your religion
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:icondancingbear:
dancingbear Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Looks like a pretty slick propaganda setup there - completely oblivious to the needy within a few feet. Very sad...

I am relatively religious, so I get even more annoyed when Christians are tarred with the same brush. If you are interested check out NALT on FB (www.facebook.com/NALTChristian… - Christians attempting to live their lives and attitudes more in accordance with the love Christ gave us but few of the evangelicals express... :P

Mark
(to me being right wing and Christian is an oxymoron)
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:iconslyshand:
slyshand Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Professional Filmographer
I helped out a guy once, and we talked for a while, and he was talking about religion and some of the things he learned and what he has come to realize being in need.  I've never been religious but I told him that from my experiences rule number 1 is "Don't be a dick" he laughed for a good amount of time and I never saw him again...  I lied, Rule number 1 is don't panic, rule number 2, is don't be a dick
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:iconfyrepyromaniac:
Fyrepyromaniac Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Student General Artist
I'd say religion is about being the best self you can be in a loving context. You care and cherish your fellows and try to do good and improve people's lives. I see a lot of religious folk who donate on Sunday or pay tithes and then pass the beggar by thinking 'I did help.'

No, you didn't. Share your food, give some money. THAT's religion. TALK to the homeless man, don't avoid eye contact and hurry by.

I agree with you, RobynRose
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:iconrazorblade27:
RazorBlade27 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Student General Artist
So I've been raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses my whole life but I'm going to try not to be biased right now. Not all Jehovah's Witnesses are white middle class people. In my congregation alone there's a lot of diversity and there's even a man who lives in a winnebago who parks next to our Kingdom Hall and comes to meetings in "less than perfect" clothes. There are also Jehovah's Witnesses all around the world in almost every country. They're certainly not all white. And they're not all middle-class either. Just from a personal standpoint, I'm an art student too and my Mom and I can barely afford rent every month. 

I don't know if you were there all day watching them, but it's unfair to say they were ignoring the "problem" right in front of them. After Hurricane Katrina thousands of Witnesses traveled at their own expense to the affected areas and helped rebuild homes as well as provided other necessities for people in that area. Above all we practice what the bible teaches, among which is to love your neighbor. I've known people in my congregation who have brought soup and other meals to the homeless in our area. 

I'm not trying to "tut-tut" you for having your opinions, my only purpose was to bring awareness and try and change the stereotypes that affect "my" people. 
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:iconchip667:
chip667 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well said :)
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:iconrwolf1970:
rwolf1970 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
My aunt and her family are JW's. They were enough to put me off religion and the JW's in particular. "even a man who lives in a winnebago who parks next to our Kingdom Hall and comes to meetings in "less than perfect" clothes" - can't you see how this sounds? I'll give you a hint. Imagine you're a white person talking about black people. "I'm not racist, there's even a guy at my church who's black!" Less than perfect clothes. FFS that is just insulting. So he can't afford a Sunday Best just to attend your church. Perhaps you should all put your hands in your pockets and get him one so he doesn't show your congregation up!

Most religions have good roots. Most of the people who profess to those faiths are good people. The problem is, there's a growing number in all the main faiths that USE their religion to get what they want. To make others less than themselves. Instead of taking the message, they strip out the words that support their prejudice and ignore anything that doesn't. 


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:iconrazorblade27:
RazorBlade27 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Student General Artist
My intention was not to say "he can't afford good clothes" in regards to his race (since I didn't even mention HIS race specifically) or that he looks out of place. I can't afford nice clothes either. My intention was to bring out that not everyone looks like they live in a perfect house with a white picket fence, are middle class, etc. Sometimes I don't realize how things sound, especially when I'm tired from being in class all day as was the case. I apologize if the way I phrased things made me sound insensitive. 
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:iconrwolf1970:
rwolf1970 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I mentioned the race thing as a way to explain the way that sounded, it was a simile. As in, it would be just as insulting if you'd said 'even a black guy' instead of '"even a man who lives in a winnebago who parks next to our Kingdom Hall and comes to meetings in "less than perfect" clothes'. You certainly implied that he looked out of place, or why the 'even'?

That said I understand how tiredness can make people misstep, it's not like I've never done that! Just wanted to clarify the race thing was used as an example, not in direct response.
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:iconsecretsofaphrodites:
Secretsofaphrodites Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Sometimes religious is used exactly to ignore the very real problems of life and escape into a dubious sense of self satisfaction.
Some other things are used for that purpose too. 
But the moment of solidarity and a kind smile that you get for just trying to empathize with the problems of others, that is what makes us human.
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:iconshen-panda:
Shen-Panda Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Well said, I'm not religious either,

Mutato nomine et de te fabula narratur. Words I try live by.
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