What is the biggest sin: Being too proud to ask a neighbor for food or stealing food?

  1. Uh, let’s go with stealing. For one thing it’s a crime, and if you’re caught, the humiliation there carries way farther than the house on either side. Committing crimes is a sin against yourself, if you have anything like other options.

Don’t know where you live, but I’ve lived from Jersey to California and now Florida, and every place I’ve lived there are plenty of community outlets you can sign up for to get a food supply on the sly. The food is not exciting; it’s typically groceries. Maybe hey, it’s not enough, I know – we’re not talking the three prepared squares a day you can get in jail! But it’s food. It helps scrape by.

Maybe other countries don’t have this? Or maybe in specific tucked-away parts of this country, they don’t have this? I’ve found it hugely prevalent, everywhere I’ve traipsed – but it does seem heavily local and volunteer in basis, for the most part. Not a virtue of the government, but one that flows from the people where they live, to the people where they live.

So maybe some places don’t bother? Maybe in places other than I’ve been, this “no choice but to steal or starve” dilemma (“dilemma”) has teeth? Still, as your question points out, there are always the neighbors.

On asking the neighbors: I really think you’re confusing shame with pride. “Being too proud” to ask a neighbor for food?

That feels like a real slap. In a situation like this a person often has not even one last radioactive atom of pride. They’ve been scraped clean. They’re simply too ashamed. Too mortified. Dying on the inside – just from the fact they’re in that plight! Let alone publicizing it. It can be a real paralysis.

I’m not willing to call that pride. If you are, and you want to call it a sin as well, be it on your head. Call it pride if you want, but if you do I’m going to say you don’t know the difference.

There are people who are “too proud,” and the difference is marked. A person “too proud” will bear up under suffering without giving outward sign, and their pride will only harden, set, and increase through perseverance. A person “too proud” would simply die first. They will not lower themselves – unless and except they reach the breaking point, where their strength gives out and pride breaks. Which may not happen ’til near death.

This kind of immutable too-proudness is not typical of Homo sapiens.

Most people in desperate plight who never thought they’d be in that plight, they are not too proud. They are too ashamed. They don’t want to be a burden. They don’t want to bother anyone. They are sick with self-recrimination, self-disgust maybe, at any rate: despair. They don’t want anyone knowing how vulnerable they are. NOT FEELIN’ TOO PROUD, DUDE.

What you fail to understand is, the human organism when it feels desperately vulnerable has often a shrieking aversion to letting others know its desperate vulnerability.

That isn’t “pride.” Its 200,000 years of survival drive panic mode, triumphing often enough over desperate straits to leave us all with a well-wired desperate vulnerability concealment instinct. Perhaps unfortunate for modern times.

How does anybody mistake that for pride? Bad reasoning process, maybe? “Well, all they’d have to do is ask their neighbors. So if they can’t, it’s pride!”


So, you get three squares in jail, I guess. Yet petty theft of food isn’t going to give you much of a stretch. You’ll be right back out in no time, and your neighbors will probably know.

I got it!

If you’re too proud or ashamed or desperate to seek help from the neighbors: first, try friends! A close friend, maybe. Perhaps they’ll let you clean out their canned food stock. They were only going to donate that crap to the Your Town Charity Hall canned food drive anyway!

If that doesn’t work, your fallback option:

Find out if there are any places near you that give food out on the sly, to the needy. You may not be aware these are there. They’re tucked away. They keep a low-profile. They’re sensitive that their customers all have a towering, overweening PRIDE that must be served!!

Point is: these places will never expect a robbery.

Or they wait…maybe you could just ask ’me for some food? They’re set up to handle just such requests. Discreetly.


Stealing the food is the biggest sin. Pride is had in both situations, which is a big sin. The question plays out two alternatives to having pride: one is to go without food due to pride, and the other is to commit a second sin due to the pride. The two sins reveal two areas in life which must be overcome in order to become sinless, while the other has only one area to overcome. Not asking for food does not violate the Golden Rule but theft does, thus the theft is the greater sin in that aspect, too.

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