Old ShoesI was in Sunday School last week and the church door buzzer sounded. Door was unlocked, but the poor fellow at the door did not know this. I went to the door and found a distressed looking fellow, probably early 30s, shabbily dressed, wearing shoes that were barely on his feet. He carried a plastic bag that likely contained all he owned. His English was extra poor. He told me he needed a pair of shoes. The Salvation Army is not too far from our church and I gave him directions. Looking back I should have taken him there. I asked him if he was hungry and he nodded his head that he was. I gave him some cash, he thanked me and went off towards Sally.
Some will say they would never give anyone a ride anywhere, nor give a person like that money as he should get a job like the rest of us. I used to judge in that way, but don't anymore. I am far from perfect, but have compassion in my heart for those living on the streets. Yes, many suffer because we don't know who is legit and who is scamming. Sometimes you have to step out and take a chance and help someone in need. If I had the money I would establish a pantry/clothing center and a soup kitchen to address the visible increase of street people in my area. Some will call me crazy, that bothers me little. 

Ken Smith adds:

You were right to provide assistance. Not necessary to give a large sum, but give enough that your heart tells you it was right. In Seattle street bums are a nusiance and one never knows whether the money will go for booze or a sandwich. It's easy to get around this. Carry a pocket full of quarters or half-dollars, according to your means, and give to anyone who asks.

I was giving a dollar to a fellow with a territory adjacent to the entrance of a book store. I don't go to that store so often the dollar would break my bank.

Then a substitute was at the site, using the territory on the guy's day off. She and I talked about Toynbee and during the conversation the guy's name who owned the territory came up. Her face flushed red at the mention of it. She told me the fellow had treated her badly and more or less told her to stay off his territory. That was confirmed, as she had spoken to the staff in the store about it, asking them to intervene. Since then I have ignored the guy. Strange that a guy in sad circumstances would not have empathy. You'd think the circumstances would nurture sympathy for a fellow sufferer.





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. Lon Evans on April 2, 2008 3:28 am

    Dear Mr. Millhone, Don't be bothered. The example of Chr-st demands that charity (unselfreflecting) challenge those who require that a personal affluence (influence?) be lauded. In my mind, you did right. lon

  2. Martin James on April 2, 2008 5:33 am

    Hello Alan,

    I feel that the solution to prevent these sufferes from suffering is in economics. No matter what, do not help them with any donations. This removes their incentives to pan handle. They will then have to find an alternative means to earn a living. This would help them lead a better life style and also provide a better life to their progeny.

    The backdrop is that I come from India where they are common. These people earn a lot through begging. They include kids as a kid can increase your earning power (you feel more compassion toward a kid). So then as the economics work this way, they produce more children so that their earning can increase more. So over a time we can only find them increasing. These kids are then denied decent treatment from self help groups.

    So in a way I feel that through any form of donation I am encouraging them.


  3. Craig Bowles on April 2, 2008 8:55 am

    The best is the two way street. I always pick up hitch hikers and make them drive when on long trips. Gives me time to read and they earn the ride. In NYC if you want to make a bums day, tell him you won’t give him money but you’ll pitch him for it. I’m probably even over the years but it’s a blast for both sides. Sometimes, we even have a beer when the sport is done. Many of these guys like not having to answer to “the man” enough to live like an AT thru hiker. We call a guy Hendrix who lives at our subway stop. He’s got some issues but plays music that’s like nothing else you’ve ever heard.

  4. M. Pogue on April 2, 2008 11:15 am

    I once read Churchill said, “A young man who is not a liberal has no heart, an old man who is not a conservative has no brain”. As I was born in the 60’s I’m guessing Churchill would conclude I am without a brain. My wife would probably concur.

    Churchill was a product of his enviroment. He lived in “interesting times” as our Chinese friends would say. I have always wondered though,if Churchill was born in 1960 in North America, would he have the same opinion.

    I live very simply and probably have enough money to maintain my life style for the rest of my life. I give money to homeless without any attachments or conditions. A pint of beer, a bit of grass, a proper smoked meat sandwich. It is all good. I only pray they find peace.


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