Yesterday evening, Lauren and I helped an older woman, obviously impoverished and estranged, with a ride and a little extra money. At first, we both felt pride in aiding the lady, but the longer we were with her, it became apparent that she was taking advantage of our generosity. We finished helping as we promised we would, and as we drove home we reflected on the experience. Our mixed feelings made it difficult to assess what had transpired.
Our evening reminded me of something I read not long ago, something simple and short. It took me just a minute and a little research to recall the work: Katherine Mansfield’s 1922 story, “The Garden Party.” Stories like Mansfield’s are the sort of art that I have in mind in posts like “The Course of Empire” or “Moral Movies.” They contain the sort of words that I want embedded deep inside me, molding me and shaping me.
Labels: helping, Katherine Mansfield, poverty, short story, taking advantage, The Garden Party