When to give?

Today’s Question:

If you ever go to a large city your chances are higher to run into a poor person. Specifically a person that may be homeless. What do you do when these people ask you to spare your change? When someone asks you to help them buy food, purchase a train or bus ticket? As you look at them, some of them filthy from living on the streets for an extended of period of time… what do you do?

My Issue:

Today was one of those days I’m reminded why I have issues with Chicago… and larger cities in general. Being a poor college student I’m broke. I don’t have money to casually hand off. But how do I know this person needs the money more than I do? How do I determine that they aren’t playing a game or free loading to avoid paying for things themselves? Personally I struggle with this. I can’t always tell. I want to believe all people that claim they need help actually do need help. But then what? Do I hand out all my money to everyone on the street who needs help? How do determine if I should give my funds to the guy on this corner or they guy on that corner? I don’t have enough to pay for everyone in Chicago… But should that stop me?

Honestly when I see people hurting my heart breaks. To think I can’t help just kills me. With so many people hurting in this city what do I do to not be overwhelmed with my empathetic sadness? So far it has been to just ignore them. Which breaks my heart. They are fellow humans, but I don’t have the resources to help everyone. With my current financial I can’t do much. So what should I do? Ignore them and break my heart, or acknowledge them and break my heart?

I can’t handle it times. I don’t like this feeling. It hurts.

But then….

But then someone goes and makes me realize some of these people are shams. While waiting for some friends in Chicago I was approached by a man looking for $1 for a bus ride back home. I declined, apologizing that I did not have that money to give. Truth is I had money… but not anything that I could give without dipping into money to pay for bills. While contemplating if I did the right thing I sat in this restaurant going back and forth. Then the same came back. I thought, maybe this is God trying to tell me, “help this kid out.”

I turned in my seat to call to the man, but he asked someone else for money, with the same story. This time though he asked for $2. A bit puzzled I bit my tongue and watched. The man thanked the person and left. He went up into CTA train station. Which I thought odd since he claimed he needed a bus. Of course the next logical thought was that he just needed more money than anticipated for the bus ticket, found that out, and had a train ticket to use and just needed that money for the bus later on in his journey. Therefore I tried writing my doubts over with excuses. But then nearly an hour late the same guy shows up and asks my friends and I for money for his “bus ticket”. At this point I lost trust in this guy and narrowed my eyes at him as we declined his “plea” for help.

This is why trusting people is hard, and this is why I have a hard time trusting if people really need help. Thank you Mr., you successfully affirmed for me that some people cry for help falsely. Way to stab at my already suspicious trust, I hope you at least help other people who are truly struggling.

-The kid who wants to just wants to hide in the Swiss Alps for a few more weeks,



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