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An Interesting Thing That Happened To Me Today

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Earlier today I was in downtown Detroit with my mother and grandmother on personal matters. Me and my mother were sitting on a small brick wall waiting on my grandmother to come out of a nearby building when a panhandler walked up and proceeded to ask for money via what was going to be a long speech which I immediately cut short by stating that "I don't give money to people I don't know."

This caused the guy to give me a funny look and walk down and start over with a lady sitting about ten feet from the two of us. I noticed that she ended up handing him a handful of "spare" change.

Now enboldened with his recent victory he then decided to turn his attention to me once again. He proceeded to ask me in quick succession whether I read the bible, the koran, other various religious texts (obviously he was going to appeal to their various altruistic premises and contradictions if I replied in the affirmative) while I simply stared at him without acknowledging any of these.

Finally after a litany of religious references he got to philosophy. At which point I stopped him and said "I read philosophy."

He asked, "Which one?" and I obviously answered, "Objectivism."

To my surprise he said, "The philosophy of Ayn Rand. See I do know you then; I've known your kind before I ever saw you." Then he walked away.

I commented to my mom that he must be a pretty bright man for a bum. She didn't quite get it. (My mom's a bit of an airhead.)

When my grandmother came out I told her what happened and she stated that she would have told him-- "I read the bible, and in it states that the Lord says, 'Only help those that help themselves'." Which minus the religious connotations is a somewhat moral statement.

So to sum up, first, I thought it was pretty interesting that a street bum understood the altruistic morality to such a degree and depth that he was intellectually prepared to use its premises against random strangers to his benefit. Second I also thought it was interesting that he knew about Objectivism and not only that, but knew enough to understand no further conversation with me on the subject would change my position. (Although, for a second there, after Miss Rand's name left his mouth I half considered giving him a dollar because it amazed me, and I kind of thought he deserved something for having a pretty good understanding of philosophy and especially O'ism. But he walked away too quick.) This was definitely a different and somewhat unusual experience for myself! "You know Objectivism's winning when..." ;)

Next, I thought my grandmother's quote from the bible was pretty interesting also. It's the emphasis on passage's like that and other similar idea's that are left over from the Enlightenment/Deist era that still allow this nation to remain relatively free and still generally have a good sense of life despite the level of religious irrationalism

still present in today's society.

Well hope my little story and analysis didn't bore you all to much. :)

Edited by softwareNerd

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While leeches understand the significance of a moral code, most people don't bother thinking twice about it. What does the fact that a chance bum probably knows more about morality than the public he feeds off of say about a culture? </rhetoric>

Thanks for the story.

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I find it funny that most people have the ability to feed their bodies in one way or another to stay alive. Then when it comes to 'feeding' their brains they lust for nothing but cotton candy and allow their thoughts to find no substance but that of fog.

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I think there's a chance your bum had a degree in Philosophy. That's the kind of career most modern Philosophy programs seem to be preparing their students for. (Based on what I've seen, though I haven't participated in a University Philosophy program myself.)

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Thakns for the story.

I thought it was pretty interesting that a street bum understood the altruistic morality to such a degree and depth that he was intellectually prepared to use its premises against random strangers to his benefit

I think most bums understand it.

My buddy and I will go downtown sometimes and play our instruments on the side of the street. We make some $ and then the bums come up and ask us if we have any spare change. I usually just look at them with a blank face, telling them, "yes, we have spare change."

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I thought it was pretty interesting that a street bum understood the altruistic morality to such a degree and depth that he was intellectually prepared to use its premises against random strangers to his benefit.

Of course he understood altruism. If he hadn't, he wouldn't be a bum; he would be a sucker like that lady sitting ten feet from you.

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Hey that was a pretty cool story. Thanks for telling it. I have met some pretty interesting hobos (especially downtown), but none as interesting as that. Even though almost all the hobos I meet I don't like because they're second handers Although I did meet one who was pretty cool and trying to turn his life around. Thanks again for the story.

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Thanks again for the story.

You're welcome! :lol:

Once again for everyone, what I really found to be interesting about this character was that he seemed to understand altruism just like most of us do (he did know about Objectivism) and yet he purposely chose to be a second hander. I understand most bums "understand" the altuistic ethics, but to most it's just on the level of-- "Hey, I'm poor and you have some money, therefore you should give some of it to me." But this guy seemed to understand it on a philosophical level. I wouldn't have expected that in a million years. :P

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yet he purposely chose to be a second hander
It all goes back to the ol saying: If you can't beat em,' join em. Some people out there think that the quickest way to freedom is to just give in to the demolishing ways our society is headed...(i.e. vote for higher taxes, more regulations, etc.) Sometimes that idea is tempting.

Maybe that's what the bum is doing lol =P.

Edited by softwareNerd

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What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing. In fact, I have also found street people – the ones who are not druggies or mental - to be quite smart. Many of them are former professionals.

Sharastro is right in that this particular saying "God helps those who helps themselves" being in the Bible is nothing but an urban legend. Also the saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is to be found nowhere there. However, I must disagree on another point. The Bible is not fundamentally opposed to work. Several Biblical passages that state that a person must work in order to survive. I am sure that at least one passage on your mind, Sharastro, is that of Jesus telling of the fact that the lilies of the field toil not, thus implying that humans should not toil or worry excessively about their daily lives, either. (Actually, plants do toil, since they photosynthesize and make their own food! Haha) But I can provide passages in which Jesus seemed downright pro-capitalist (somewhere in Matthew 5, I believe? Parable of the workers in the field who felt paid insufficiently)!!! Does that mean he was a capitalist? Of course not. Everything must be taken in context – Jesus said many seemingly contradictory things.

I can’t dig up these passages regarding the philosophy toward work because I don’t read my Bible anymore and it’s about 400 miles away packed up in a box in my brother’s basement… But having read the Bible religiously as a teenager (pun intended) I can tell you for sure that these passages are there.

It’s important to be objective about the context of religious passages. Many self-proclaimed Christians, including members of my family, are hard-working folks who have a conservative mindset when it comes to fiscal issues. I can tell you first hand that part of this philosophy toward work is a result of what they are taught in church. The best we can say is that the Bible has contradictory teachings on this issue.

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