To Give or Not to Give?

Scott and Miquel talking to homeless elderly man

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.

Scott talking to homeless youthOf course, I don’t have all the answers. We all have to fig­ure out the answers to these ques­tions ourselves.

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.

Homeless Man San Jose Costa RicaAnd 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?