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The sentence below is from the article Posters berating homeless beggars as frauds? I know how far this is from truth

Perhaps hard-pressed officials adopt these tactics when interacting with homeless people to manage the soul-sapping juggling of scarce resources?

I couldn't understand the meaning of the phrase soul-sapping juggling.

What is the meaning of the word soul-sapping?

Does it mean weakening the mind or heart?

And could you please explain to me the meaning of the sentence.

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    It means depressing or discouraging. It has no religious connotations. Hopefully, this will make the meaning of the sentence clear.
    – Mick
    Oct 1, 2016 at 20:33
  • @MickSharpe What does juggling mean? Does it mean giving attention? Oct 1, 2016 at 20:38
  • Max has answered that.
    – Mick
    Oct 1, 2016 at 21:02
  • look up: to sap [someone's energy]
    – Lambie
    Aug 24, 2020 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

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Soul is a complicated word since it has spiritual and religious connections. But to gain a simple meaning of soul-sapping, we can work with this:

soul

  1. a: the moral and emotional nature of human beings

I assume you understood sapping. So all together, I took soul-sapping to meaning something like exhausting or demoralizing.

exhaust
: to use all of someone's mental or physical energy : to tire out or wear out (someone) completely
demoralize
: to weaken the morale of (a person or group)

So it is like weakening the mind, the body, the heart, etc.

Manage was an excellent choice here, since it suggests that officials struggle to deal with the lack of resources emotionally (personally) and meet the limitations set by the lack of resources.

Juggling basically means making many adjustments here and there in order to achieve something.

So in simple terms, the author is asking (rhetorically) if the officials adopt these tactics in order to be able to make the adjustments needed to meet the limitations set by the lack of resources.

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The problem of interpreting the phrase may come from the parts of speech, not the definitions. Soul-sapping is, as others have said, a reference to something that is demoralizing, taking away hope. In this case, it is being used as an adjective to modify the gerund (noun) "juggling."

The officials are juggling scarce resources. The act of juggling those resources is sapping their souls, taking away their hope and commitment to the moral good.

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