We were both in line last week to buy tickets for a movie… the line wound out into the street and while we were out there… where it was cold and snowy… a woman came walking along and asked for some spare change. You seemed quite oblivious to the situation… until I handed the woman a loonie.
That’s when I heard the tone of your conversation change. Your voices got lower and your eyes quickly glanced back and forth between me and the person you were whispering to… now not that I meant to eavesdrop, but really I was right behind you and could hear what you were saying… phrases like:
“You should never give them money.”
“I gave them some fries once at the restaurant I worked at. They just kept coming back for more.”
This made my heart hurt…
I obviously don’t have the solution to remedy the plight of hungry, hurting people. I’m not here to debate whether you should give a panhandler the change in your pocket or have a stack of Tim Cards ready for such a situation. Really that’s up to the individual giver.
What hurt me was the way you talked about fellow human beings, you talked about helping street people like it was a “don’t feed the bears” situation at a national park. “Don’t feed those people… they’ll be hungry again tomorrow and come back for more. They’ll become nuisance humans and we’ll have to try relocating them.”
I want to gently point out some things you might not have considered:
You probably knew where you were going to sleep that night, and every night. I’m betting it’s a nice warm safe place. That woman probably didn’t have such a luxury.
Since you were standing in a line to pay $9.00 for a movie ticket, I can only assume you were not worried where your next meal was coming from. She might be worried about that very thing.
It’s cold outside. And I might be a bit naive but I hope that dollar was used to pay for a cup of coffee… or maybe another generous person gave her a toonie down the way and she was able to buy some soup or chili and warm up a little.
Human beings are our tribe… they are our people… and if we don’t help them out when the opportunity presents itself… who will? Certainly not the bears.