A man came to our door just now. He seemed polite, well mannered and appeared to be selling something. He told us that he was from some kind of youth selling organisation (with a valid certificate and all) that helped individuals get back on their feet in times of need. I think he must have been homeless. And we turned him away.
I suppose many people feel the similar sort of guilt when turning away from those who really do look like they need the help. Often on the streets of London or any place where people congregate, those without a place to go hold paper cups and worn cardboard signs asking for the spare change of any passer by. Only a few times have I seen anyone give them anything. I don’t feel that I was ever one of them and I really don’t know why. Often I would drop change into charity boxes for pretty much any cause. Cancer, hearing dogs, money to build schools in poorer countries anything that seemed, I use this word delicately, legitimate. Not to say that the people I see are lying or anything. I can’t understand why anyone would put themselves through that unless they really was desperate. But they get avoided, deemed as potentially dangerous and shunned by society.
My mother actually said to me, don’t open the door for those kind of people. And I felt bad. I know she’s well meaning in the sense that she wants to eliminate any chance of her family getting hurt but the look on that man’s face when we turned him away. I almost desperately wanted to give him something when he asked for a donation but I didn’t. I didn’t have the courage to trust that he would simply wait patiently by the door whilst I ran to fetch my purse. I could have helped in some way but I didn’t and I should have.
But when do you stop giving what you have? Why is it that people (as I understand it) are more likely to give to a charity than to a homeless person? I don’t believe that they’re all dangerous and at least we know for sure where that money is likely to go. We’ve all heard of scandals where ‘legitimate’ charities have raked in the money they’ve been given for their own benefits. Where do we start or stop or improve?
Dear reader, whether you feel the same sort of guilt as me when passing that man on the streets or whether you think about this sort of thing or not, leave me a message in the comments below about your thoughts about the situation.