He Said/She Said
At the outset, let me say that I have never been, nor will I ever be above sharing a few coins for the homeless. Why not? Oh, right, they will likely buy booze or drugs. You know what? I don't care. True, in a strong sense, my kind gesture is affirmatively encouraging bad habits, not to mention a silent physiologic destruction perhaps, but hey, if for those brief moments there is a temporary mental vacation from "not having enough", then I am for it.
My homeless experiences started several years ago on a hot summer day in Santa Monica. I remember clearly how my father held me in his arms with my brother at his side at
Needless to say, I became the same way; giving dollars to any passing transient with a "will work for food" sign or not. Until one day, this homeless man outside of Ralphs on Sunset Blvd asked for money to buy some food, because he was hungry. I did not have money on me, so I said, "On my way out." Upon leaving the store, he hurriedly rushed over to me, to cash in on my promise. In return, I gave him a bag of groceries that I had selected just for him. His reply, "I'd rather have some cash, if you know what I mean." I said, "No, I don't know what you mean" and walked away. He continued to follow me with high hopes. So, what gives him the gall to ask for money when he is getting food? I mean, he says he was hungry and that is why he wanted cash. Hence, the food and it is not as if I bought him cheap food either.
Revelation: Beggars are simply just that: beggars. They are not necessarily in need of cash. They are in need of some form of professional treatment that I cannot give them, and neither can you. By continuing to fuel these quests for money on our sidewalks, we are just reinforcing a bad habit. My dad seems to think times have changed over the last decade or two, as people just found it a good way to make money. I think we need not reinforce a disgusting habit. Next time when a beggar requests money, hand him some food. If he is hungry, he will eat. Or hand him a card to your local shelter, so he can get some federally funded housing.
So, I agree with Tim: we SHOULD give, but not to the person asking because they are not a qualified homeless person. Let's give to organizations that give housing and food to the qualified homeless people. PATH is a wonderful organization that helps 10,000 homeless people every year. They are located at
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