Blessings from the Beggar

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I’ve seen “them” a lot lately.  Men and even women on the street begging for money. Some standing with a can or a hat, others sitting on the cold wet ground with a blanket wrapped around them and a sign. It always breaks my heart but especially now in the winter.

I’ve heard it all before too. The argument that suggests that they should just get a job. Others say there must be  mental illness involved.  The most common of all, don’t fork over your hard-earned money it will just go to drugs or alcohol.  I thought it was pretty clever when I saw a man asking for money with a sign that said “I won’t lie.  I need money for drugs”.

Sometimes I give and sometimes I don’t but I always end up having a debate in my head if I did the right thing. My argument goes like this:

“Why did you give that man money??  He probably drives a nicer car than you and goes out for a steak dinner before going home!!”

“How could you not give that man money?? How is he going to eat tonight? Don’t you have a heart!!”

There is now a racket where women have joined together and beg with their children, using the kids as pawns to your heart-strings. The police in NYC are trying to crack down on them.  There is also an unprecedented amount of beggars in the NYC subways, probably transplanted from the street because it is too cold outside.

I was on vacation oversees at one time  and went to a religious destination that is well-known for the women there ” selling” various items.  Basically they guilt you into buying.  I did buy one day. The women praised me wishing me and my family only good things.   I then returned the next day and the same women accosted me to buy for her again.  I did not.  She cursed me. Not a four letter word curse.  No, a full fledge hex on me and my family. And she didn’t stop either.  She followed me around spewing vile premonitions for my future.

It didn’t damage my desire to give charity, it reinforced it.  Just not to her.

Today I went food shopping at a supermarket a few towns away. Outside was an older man  in a tattered suit.  He greeted all the women going in and coming out. As I approached the door I saw a women put some money in his hand.  Then another woman came out and did the same. The third woman gave him money on her way in.

He smiled at everyone. I walked in. I did my shopping. I paid. I left. I went to my car and put my packages away. I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I walked back and gave him a few dollars.  He blessed me.

My theory is this.  I am  not smart enough to know how to eradicate homelessness or unemployment.  I am not rich enough to build shelters or homes for the people who need them. If someone is out asking for money, for whatever they will use it for, it  speaks volumes to their state of being. I will not judge.

His blessing counts just as much as anyone’s and we can all use any blessing we get these days.

The new argument in my head:

“Good job, Janie”.

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10 thoughts on “Blessings from the Beggar

  1. We experience this whenever we go to India. Organised begging is a massive thing there,but there are genuine cases too. MybHubby has a big, very soft heart, and he hates to see a mother with hungry children etc. His dad will tell him to ignore them and carry on walking, he’s hardened to it, but Hubby can’t do that… On my,mother arguments they’ve had over the years! I’m like you though, my mind swings both ways… But I do give, if I can… You’re right, a blessing is. Blessing, no matter where it comes from!

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  2. Yes, I struggle with giving too. If I have it I do give but all I do is pray they get to the shelter to eat because as you said, I don’t have the solution for homelessness because I’m trying to stay above water so I won’t be on the street corner. But I do hope if I’m ever there I hope someone like you bless me.

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  3. I have spent some time in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My friend there always used to have some food items in her car. Little chocolate bars, muesli bars, things like this. And when we were approached by the kids, begging for money for food, she gave them the snack bars. She said that otherwise they would have to give the money to the bigger kids or the adults and would end up not getting anything or that they would spend it on drugs. Like this they had an instant food resource in their hands and while we were driving away you could see them shove it in their mouths. I think it was a smart thing to do. As she always also pointed out that it was unsafe to have change in the car…
    I do like the idea of giving food. As this is what they need. Food and a hot drink on your side of the world at the moment. If they are really struggling and not just playing around, they will be happy to get this snack bar, or a wrap or a sandwich or an apple or whatever you can offer them.

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  4. I don’t always give, probably half the time. I look for a feeling of what to do. As vague as that sounds, it is my guide. Whatever they do with it is not as important to me as knowing my intention is to reach out and help. It is such a tough and increasing social issue. Thank you for this thoughtful and thought provoking post.

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