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”.