Dorothy Day and Her Controversial Views
Dorothy Day was a very compassionate women. She has made many contributions to our society though she could be considered a socialist and a pacifist. Her views on Christianity were to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." According to Day, as Christians and children of God, we should all be called to treat the poor as one of us, even though they might not deserve what they get. Many people feel that the poor are that way only because they choose it for themselves, through alcohol abuse or drug addiction. However, Day says that we all are children of God and we should all get the same necessities of life no matter where we stand financially. We should welcome the homeless into our homes and have "Christ Rooms" for them. But, why would people let a homeless person into their homes when they don't know if these indigents are murders, stealers, liars, etc.? Many people ask themselves that same question, and therefore don't go along with Day's views.
There are some misconceptions about poverty. Some look at poverty as the result of broken homes, generally when there is no father figure. Also, bad habits or laziness as well as lack of cooperation and cohesiveness in the community could attribute to poverty. A hippie misconception is that poverty is an idyllic retreat from the hastles of life. Homelessness can actually be the result of a disaster, such as a flood, fire or earthquake or even the loss of a job.
Another question we ask ourselves is "Should we give into the poor, such as money to the homeless on the street, when all they are going to do is probably buy alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or something of no good use?" We work for a living and deserve the rewards we get such as pay checks. Why should we give our money to those who put themselves in that position in the first place? A better question might be, "How should we help the poor?" Should Dorothy Day and her followers have not only provided shelter and food for the homeless, but also have given them psychological help? Should these poor individuals have been given training in various technical skills to try to better themselves? Was Day doing a disservice by having many of these people live solely on handouts thereby making them even more dependent? Could Day's methods been the beginning of the "welfare state" that has seen so many abuses?
In response to such questions, Day, with the help of a former Christian brother, Peter Maurin, started "The Catholic Worker". This radical newsletter was "made to publicize Catholic social teaching and promote steps to bring about the peaceful transformation of society". "The Catholic Worker" also expressed the idea of pacifism, and the refusal to take either side in war. This caused a great loss of readership at the time of the Spanish Civil War when most Catholic bishops supported Franco and his fascist ways. Day was totally against war and everything having to do with war including the nuclear bomb. However, again some of her supporters did not agree with her pacifism, especially after the United States entry into World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As a result, fifteen of the houses supporting the Day's works of mercy closed. She and her followers were jailed many times in protesting New York's annual civil defense drill. She did not want to be "drilled into fear" for she totally depended upon her faith in God. Years later, many of her workers were jailed for refusing to be drafted in the service during the Vietnam War.
Dorothy Day also got involved in the civil rights movement and came close to being killed while visiting an integrated Christian community in Georgia. She was shot at while on post, but was unharmed. The "Catholic Worker" supported these views on civil rights as well as those of the rights of the farm workers for which Day, at the age of 75, was arrested for being involved in a picket line.
Dorothy Day's home life and her jobs, along with her s helped form her values. Though controversial, especially in the areas of pacifism and socialism, Day's contributions in promoting peace and her humanitarian efforts in helping the poor, blacks and farm workers helped maker her be seen by many as a twentieth century saint.