What does ‘charity begins at home’ mean? The phrase ‘charity begins at home’ means that when we want to start improving the world we need to start with our own lives. ‘Charity’ here can be interpreted as ‘love’, which is what the word meant when the phrase was originally coined.
Origin of the phrase: The first recorded use of this phrase is in 1642, in a book called ‘Religio Medici’ by Thomas Browne.
Expansion: Some people think that the phrase ‘charity begins at home’ is often interpreted too restrictively. Just because charity begins at home, it does not have to end there!
We cannot help others if we do not help ourselves first. We need to take care of ourselves and ensure that we are in a good position before we branch out to help others.
Avoiding hypocrisy. ‘Charity begins at home’ reminds us that we need to be kind to our nearest and dearest – it is hypocritical to donate to foreign charities and yet not to care for our own families.
Reminding us of continuities. This aphorism reminds us that we are all one human family, and when we start by caring for our own family we can then move on to care for strangers as if they were our own family.
A sense of duty. We have a duty to care for our family, and to look after them.
Learning. Our families are where we learn to love and care for others, and only later do we transfer these skills into the wider world.
Conclusion. There are many ways in which charity begins at home – and we can start right now!