DEAR HARRIETTE: I go outside once a week to buy food and go to the pharmacy (when necessary). I don’t spend much time outside, and I’m happy to report that there aren’t a lot of people outside. What I am noticing, though, is an increase in the number of people who are begging. Many of the people look no different from me or my friends. The other ones are out there, too -- more seasoned beggars who ask for change or a dollar. I am conflicted about what I should give to these people. I know that life is getting tougher for many people, but it’s true for me, too. How can I share with some of these people and stay true to my belief that they should figure out how to take care of themselves? -- When to Give
DEAR WHEN TO GIVE: I want to advise you to soften your eyes and your attitude. Whether or not you give people money, it is important for you to gain a better understanding of what you are seeing. Through no fault of their own, millions of people are out of work. Statistics show that most Americans have only a few weeks’ worth of savings, which means that many of the more than 12 million people who recently lost their jobs are penniless already. They need food and medicines, just like you. I can only imagine that it is horrifying for many of them to find themselves outside asking for the kindness of strangers at a time when it’s scary to be outside at all.
Please look upon them with compassion. That includes the ones who have been hustling for a longer period of time. They deserve our positive energy and sense of humanity.
Who you share your resources with and how much is up to you. Consider walking with a bit of food you can give away or loose change that you can offer when you feel inspired. But also, a kind smile and acknowledgment that you are encountering another human being counts for a lot -- even if you can’t give anything more.