Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm Probably Going To Hell

Italy is a relatively rich, highly developed country, but there's a Gypsy and immigrant underclass that's absolutely treated like dirt. I mean, I've seen people step around the homeless in New York, but aside from that, we just learn to ignore them. I've never seen anyone express genuine contempt towards the poor specifically because they need money.

It's awful here. You walk down the street and there are people literally prostrating themselves before you, begging for spare change, and it's heartbreaking and pathetic. This morning, I'm sitting on the Duomo steps before it opened and these Gypsy women came up to me, carrying their babies like they always do, and pleading for half a euro or even just twenty cents in what's probably part an act and part sincere. Doesn't matter. I'm not the naif my mom thinks I am, and I'm anticipating her request and shaking my head no before she's even started her speech.

God, what an ass I am, even if I'm not less than three feet from a church. I've never been totally sure what the proper protocol is when a stranger tells you her baby will starve unless you give her money, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do what Jesus would've done. I'm no theologian, but I'm convinced Jesus wouldn't try to assuage his liberal guilt by writing about it in his blog. No, Jesus would probably make food magically appear for the Gypsy woman, which I haven't been able to pull off yet. And besides, even if I could, it would probably just come off as condescending if I did it — you sort of need divine infinite compassion to pull off a stunt like that.