‘Charity begins at home’ – meaning and explanation

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‘Charity begins at home’ – meaning and explanation

Introduction: Charity refers to aids, assistance, donation, and other help to those in need. Home refers to the permanent place of residence for the member of a family. The proverb highlights that our most important responsibility is towards our family and friends.


The phrase ‘charity begins at home’ means that ‘we should take utmost care and give unconditional love to our family members and friend, and dear ones.”

Charity comes from the Latin word caritas, which means love. Thus, though we may think that charity means giving to an organization known as a charity, charity actually refers to any loving action.

Charity begins at home means that ‘we should care for those around us first and foremost”. It is our responsibility to assist and take care of our parents, brothers, sisters, husband, wife, children and everyone who are closely related or associated to us.

This proverb means that ‘kindness starts with those closest to us”. If our our near and dear ones are in need of us, then we should surely be ever ready to help them by all possible means. In other words, we should first direct our love to our family, or other nearest and dearest.


This saying also emphasizes that we cannot be loving people unless we care for our nearest and dearest. Those at home might mean:

  • People in our house.
  • Our circle of friends.
  • People in our town or city.

As such, this proverb can mean:

  • Care for people close to us first.
  • We cannot care truly about wider problems in the world unless we first take care of those near us.


Love flows through our heart for our fellowmen. When a new-born baby joins a family, he spends time with his parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and starts loving them. He develops an emotional connect with his family members. As he grows us, he starts understanding about the relationships that he has with other people. This helps him in build connect with other people. He makes new friends at school. Friends are those people with whom we share emotional bond and connect. We share both our joys and sorrows with our friends.

When a person grows up as an adult, he enters the world and get in touch with the society. This provides him with great opportunity to develop relationship with people outside his family and friends. He develops a sense of responsibility towards the society.

This sense of love and responsibility towards the society is a natural extension of his love for his family and friends.

A person who avoids his responsibilities and disregards parents and family members is an unkind person. Public donation of huge sum of money to charitable institutions for the welfare of public is merely a show. Charity and love is rooted in the form of affectionate relationships among family members and close friends. A person who cannot love his parents and other people with whom he has shared the most important moments of life, such person cannot really love other.

Relevance of the proverb:

  • Countering hypocrisy. We are hypocrites if we claim to care about global problems whilst neglecting our own family.
  • Family life. This proverb reflects the importance of family life.
  • Marriages and romantic relationships: We should always be a rock of support to our partners.
  • Kindness to all. This saying means that we must be kind to all people, near and far.
  • Definition of charity. The definition of charity in this proverb is wider than simply giving money to charity.
  • Neighborliness. Neighborliness helps to keep communities together. Remembering this proverb will help us to be a good neighbor.
  • Moving outwards: The love we practice at home can spread outwards into the wider world.

Arguments against the proverb: Some people have debated the validity of this proverb. They have argued that it is easier to empathize with our family. Moreover, kind deeds done to people we know are more likely to be repaid.

It is more moral, one argument goes, to help a stranger whom one has never met. That stranger will perhaps never meet us, or be able to repay us.

However, a balance can be struck. It can be argued that we should help all people: both near and far.

Conclusion: One should never forget that charity begins from home. Hence, we should love, respect, and care for our family and friends, particularly our parents and elderly member. This is the first step towards charity, love and spiritual success.

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