Especially because I work with homeless youth and adults, I’m approached constantly by people who are asking for help. Some people would say they are “begging.”
Back many years ago, I used to do everything I could energetically to pretend these “beggars” were not there. I’d certainly never make eye contact with them. And it was the rare occasion that I’d give them any help or money.
Then as I matured, I learned that these folks — all of them — are just other Divine Beings having a Human Experience. Their worth and value are no less, nor more than my own.
Once I came to that realization, I had to ask myself what my role and responsibility I have as a fellow human being to lend a hand.
Do I help everyone?
Do I screen them first, to see if they “deserve” my help?
What if they are going to just buy drugs or alcohol?
Or if I give them clothes, what if they sell them to buy drugs or alcohol?
Here is a quote from Pope Francis as it appeared in America:The Jesuit Review magazine:
People who worry about how the money might be spent should ask themselves what guilty pleasures they are secretly spending money on, Pope Francis said.
“There are many excuses” to justify why one does not lend a hand when asked by a person begging on the street, he said. Some may think, “‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’” Francis said.
But, he joked, a “glass of wine is his only happiness in life!”
Giving something to someone in need “is always right,” the pope said, adding that it should be done with respect and compassion because “tossing money and not looking in [their] eyes is not a Christian” way of behaving, he said.
When I go on the streets to deliver food, clothing, blankets and toiletries to homeless youth, I don’t bring much money. When I’m asked on those occasions, inevitably by several youth and adults, I apologize and offer them what I have. I take time to listen, smile, and share with them. And to give them a hug.
I don’t eat out very often, but when I do, if I have leftovers, I take them and give them to someone on the street whom I know is hungry.
Sometimes we as a nonprofit have paid for the hotel costs for one night for some of the youth. Just so they can get a hot shower and rest without fear of having their few personal belongings stolen.
And yes, I do give cash to some people sometimes. And I don’t worry about how they spend it. I give it with all my heart and all my love and with the best of intentions. What they do with it after that, is their own business.
One thing is really clear. I’m damn lucky. There aren’t any of the kids or even adults I meet who really want to be living on the street, always dependent on other people to be able to eat and get by. Shit happens. Today I have a place to sleep. I have food. But what about tomorrow?
Bottom line is this. I want to recognize them and see them and treat them as I want to be treated and seen by other people. Life is good. The abundance of the Universe is infinite. I know if I share what I have, that it comes back to me multi-fold.
Lots of people I know think that is crap. They feel they have to hold onto everything they have and not share, for fear that what they have will dry up and they’ll be “suffering.” That to me is sad. It implies that those in need are not worthy.
What are your thoughts, feelings and actions when it comes to helping others in need? Do you feel that they “deserve” your help?