Homeless Beggars

I think we've all had our fair share of seeing homeless wandering the streets with nowhere to go. I get mixed feelings--some of them are huge assholes, but some are actually kind and decent. Regardless of what their personality is, they are most likely homeless because of their own doing, and they should take responsibility for that and try to get back on their feet without begging like dogs.

People who do not work, but ask other people to give them money and food, are beggars. Today, beggars are looked on with suspicion, because people feel that many of them could get job sif they wanted to. But hundreds of years ago, in the Middle Ages, beggars were religious men who were very much respected. Much irony?

The first beggars are supposed to have been a group of religious people called the Beghards, who lived in Europe about six hundred years ago. Many monks felt they were honoring God by giving up all their possessions and taking a vow of poverty. These monks wandered through the cities, begging in the name of the Church. People believed that giving alms, or charity, to these religious men was a way of obtaining future happiness. These monks were called mendicant friars, which means "begging brothers." They used the moneh to help the sick and the poor. But many other people, who were greedy, and who saw in this custom as a way to make some easy money, used begging to get rich without doing any work. More and more people who did not belong to the Church began to beg, until there were beggars all over Europe.

Countries began to pass laws forbidding people to beg, but little could be done to stop it. Some countries whipped beggars, or put them in jail if they were caught. Today, begging is forbidden in many countries, but the laws are not strictly enforced. In the United States, nearly every state, city, and town has laws against begging.