Tuesday, March 10, 2015

To Give or Not to Give, That is the Question

    Outside my office building right now is an attractive, friendly looking woman with a sign around her neck "Homeless. Please help.  I (Heart) Jesus."  She greets passers by in a pleasant voice, "Hi! do you support my right to ask for help?"
     Oh, the variety of conflicting feelings!
     She is not quite two blocks from the Employment Development Department and from the Personnel Board.  I wonder if she has gone inside there.  I didn't stop to ask or advise.  What if she doesn't know?  If so, I should have.  Maybe she has and checks back repeatedly.  Governmental wheels grind slowly.
     Maybe she looks for work every day.  It can be pretty tough.  And if you are homeless, how does an interested employer contact you? 
     Curious approach: Do you support my right to ask for help?"   For some reason I found it irritating.  Although, I suppose anyone has the right to ask for help. Of course, she wants financial support, not just theoretical.
      How much of the irritation was guilt?
      Guilty feelings.
      For being irritated which is not very Christian.  For teetering on judgmental, also not Christian.  And, of course, for not giving her any money.  On the way out, I had none.  I was on my way to deposit a check at the ATM.  Which, of course, meant that had I so chosen, I could have given her $20 on my way back.  Maybe I could afford to give one person $20, but I certainly cannot afford to give every beggar I see (or would you prefer petitioner?) $20.00!  I have to manage carefully to keep myself and household going.  ok, granted,  I am saving up to take myself and some of my children (who are also not frequent visitors to say the least!) to Disneyland next year. (Is it wrong to go to Disneyland, or the movies, or to buy ice cream when there are people going hungry?)
        So I am not impoverished. But if I gave to every beggar, I would be.  Soon I would be on the street myself.
      I console myself that I donate regularly to the charity I trust most to truly help people in need.  I donate to Fast Offering which specifically helps the hungry and those who might not be able to pay their utility bill or rent, etc.  In smaller amounts I donate to Humanitarian Aid, Perpetual Education, Temple Attendance and Missionary Funds.  I know that none of that money is wasted. 
      Sometimes we carry lunch bags in the car with a cracker/tuna package,plus maybe some raisins, perhaps a bottle of water, sometimes some hard candy.  Stuff like that. It varies.  Which we give to beggars on the street.  If they have a dog, we give them two.  I hear stories of rich people who make tons of money street begging.  But I know that real need exists, too.
      I am not a total grinch, but I am not much of a philanthropist. 
      How do you handle the charity question?  I do not find it an easy one.

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