When a beggar asks for change, do you give it or walk away?
I was asked this question once and realised that sadly, I was of the latter people who would keep their heads down and hands in their pockets. Like the issue discussed yesterday where people in London tend not to interact with each other due to a sense of fear and mistrust, this response to a beggar is also due to mistrust. I was taught that most beggars on the street are fake because either they simply beg as it is all they have been doing their whole lives, they are scam artists or will only end up spending the money on booze.
I have seen examples of this such as the man at Heathrow airport who would go around asking for a pound as he did not have the change to pay for the car park. A few months later when I visited the airport, the same poor man was still stuck in the car park!
Another example is the woman on the overground train I sometimes take who would walk through the carriage leaving tissue packets and a note explaining her situation. This approach intrigued me and actually made me wonder if this woman was genuinely in need. However, a few weeks later I realised it had become her job and routine.
It is quite a bewildering thing to deal with. While a part of you wants to help, you are reminded of the warnings you have been given. When a person is sitting on the street in the cold, a solution would be to buy them a hot drink or even a blanket to keep them warm. That is what I think most people feel like doing but there is always something that restricts us. Either it is a false sense of urgency to reach our warm safe homes or our fear of stepping out of our comfort zones.
Then you hear of stories like a Muslim man giving his shoes to a poor person while on the train and walking home barefoot but these acts are so few that they make the news. If humans behaved kindly as a whole, then acts of charity would not be newsworthy, they would merely be a normal occurrence.
If we as humans find it difficult to interact with people on a small scale through a smile or a greeting, how on earth can we find the courage to help those who we have been taught to look down upon?
A Worried Student