The bread which you withhold belongs to the hungry; the clothing you shut away, to the naked: and the money you bury in the earth is the redemption and freedom of the penniless.
― Decretum Gratiani 12th Century
If we suppose, that in the realm of rights that are inalienable to humanity, there stands at the forefront the right to life, taking precedence over liberty and happiness, than the illusion of the rugged individual is dispelled with a whisper. Because, if the right to life takes primacy, than it negates any requirement that might be set in order to provision the realization of that right. In plain terms, neither goodness nor labor does the distribution of sustenance require. It is the need that demands fulfillment, it is the need that shows us that our excess, if it exists, rightly belongs to those whose lives have slipped below the line of human dignity. I would go further, echoing the words of the early Church Fathers, in that the warehousing of our excess is a crime in itself, it is thievery, for it rightly belongs to those who are most in need of it.
The poor, the destitute, they have a right to food and shelter and safety that has no relation to the wages they earn, whether or not they pay taxes, whether or not they are even citizens. It is their condition, their very existence which demands a response from our humanity. In the least, their lives must be witnessed, that the quiet and lost dignity that lays underneath the paved and concrete lives of those who take and never give back is not forgotten. And at the most, well, we should raise up our brother, raise up our sister and join them in both joy and sorrow, in want and plenty.