Let me start by saying I urge you to read this whole post through. The beginning will no doubt make me sound like an awful person... just keep reading.
After my dreaded grocery shopping trip at Walmart today, I was exiting the parking lot and there was a man with a cardboard sign asking for money standing at the corner. There is almost always someone standing there asking for something. And I always dread having to drive by them.
The person in the SUV in front of me gave the man some money. And do you know what my first thought was?... He's probably just going to use that money to buy alcohol or drugs. And then? Why doesn't he just find a homeless shelter, get himself cleaned up and find a job. And then my next thought was, heck you hear about these scams on the news all the time. He probably isn't even homeless or poor, he just wants to take my money so he doesn't have to earn his own.
When did I get so cynical? So utterly cold?
I can remember a point in my younger years when the thought of the "poor" would make me heartbroken, especially around Christmas. My automatic response would be to help, of course. That's just what you do. As a child you don't want anyone to suffer. You don't understand the politics of poverty, and therefore anyone in need should be given help. That simple.
Society has hardened me, all of us really. It's made me question basic instincts, like helping someone out who has fallen on hard times. Instead of assuming someone is just a lazy, no good person who doesn't want to work for their money, maybe I should have a little faith. Yeah, there are people out there who cheat the system, who beg without trying to help themselves, and scam on the kind hearted. But that can't be the case for every poor or homeless person. What if one kind gesture to one person down on their luck changes their lives, but I passed them up because I just assumed they were lying? I have a closet full of purses I don't need, drawers full of make-up and nail polish I could probably do without and cupboards full of food. And I can't spare a few dollars to someone that most likely needs it more than I do? Shame on me. Shame on us. Because I know I'm not the only one that thinks this way.
I'm not saying we all need to be bleeding hearts who donate to all causes and stop on every corner to hand out all our money out of guilt. I'm just saying, sometimes it's okay to give some of what you have so much of, to someone else who has so much less, even if you can't be sure if they're going to use what you give them to truly benefit themselves. We can afford to take that risk sometimes. We're lucky that way. Besides, we don't need nearly as many earthly things, as we think we do. As hard as it is to believe sometimes, our possessions and even our money, that we have an over abundance of, won't last us forever. Because one day we won't need them anymore. And then what was the point in having so much when others suffered with so little?