I’ve always struggled with how to treat people I run in to who are asking for help on the street (I’d say homeless people, but I guess I’m not sure if they’re homeless or not though they probably are). Generally speaking I don’t give money to help them as I would prefer to give that money to an organization that helps them get off the street. I also justify it by saying that I’m working toward improving education, so I’m already giving back quite a bit. I also think to myself, “I can’t just give to every homeless person I see, so maybe I shouldn’t give to any of them”.
But I’m never satisfied with such rationale. Every time I walk past a homeless person I think that I should do something. I don’t usually, but I do usually feel guilty about it.
A few months ago I was getting an In & Out Burger and there was someone begging on the streets outside. I decided I would buy her a burger and bring it out to her. I did and she was appreciative, but then I actually felt like I might be showing up everyone else by giving to her when they were not. Maybe that’s a good thing because it would encourage them to be more generous, but it didn’t feel that great.
I don’t know why it’s such a complicated thing, but for me at least it always seems to be.
I’ve always thought maybe I should just carry around a bunch of one dollar bills and, every time a homeless person asks for money give them a dollar. I’m not sure that that’s the right approach, but it might be. It would make it a little easier to be subtle about it. It may not be enough to help them, but it’s something.
Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution.