When it comes down to it, I believe myself to be a fairly generous citizen. I hold the door open for old ladies in the grocery store, when friends come to visit they are welcome to stay over and I turn lost dogs into the shelter when they roam the busy streets.
Saying that, there is one thing that causes me to seriously question my morals on a daily basis, and that’s the fact that despite my generosity, I am reluctant to give out demanded contributions to beggars of all kinds.
As the holidays draw near, it is the season of giving and selflessness. I am all for this, but my charitable ways fall short to people that insist on my generosity and judge me when I decline them or refuse to pay up.
For example, the other morning on my way to school I stopped by the 7-Eleven on Hollywood Boulevard and the 101 freeway. This is my usual habit while in route to the CSUN campus for my 9 a.m. class. As I left the store I was approached by a homeless man asking me for a dollar. As soon as I handed him some change that I had in my pocket, he proceeded to turn around and harass a customer’s dog that was tied to a nearby bike rack which caused a scene. Without so much as a “thank you” or a “god bless,” from the gentleman, I was out of the parking lot and on my way, thinking to myself “I wish I wouldn’t have done that, he doesn’t even appreciate or acknowledge my kindness!”
I still can’t begin to understand the exact extent of what it feels like to be homeless, all the added stresses just to make it through the day, but I believe in class at all levels of society and I don’t expect to be judged or taken for granted. My views on who is worthy of my contributions have changed because of the usual rude or distasteful way one acts after they’ve gotten what they want from me, or even worse, when I don’t give them what their asking for. I am more inclined to teach a man to fish rather than give him one and sincerity and humbleness still rank high in my book, no matter who you are.
If you are begging for something, this means that you should have tried everything else and can’t think of a more tactful way to present yourself.
Those organizations that hassle me for “only my address and signature,” 3 times, for that matter, and become rude when I ignore them because I am late, saying it will only take a second of my time are no better than those begging for my money. Why do I have to give you a second of my time when I need that precious second to forward me, not you.
When I first moved to this city coming from a small town I was overwhelmed with the amount of people on the streets that would ask me for money every day. At first I would try to split it up and always give them at least something when they asked if I could “spare a dollar?” I felt so horrible if I ever had to say no, like they knew I was lying from the start, so I would almost always give.
But after a while it started to anger me. I would find myself taking inconvenient detours at school and home just to avoid these people and to spare myself the criticism that I knew they would bring on me when I ignored them. There have been many times that I have been called a liar or worse when I didn’t have any cash or time on me literally and I had nothing to offer.
It’s bad enough that this distracts the focus of my day, but the guilt that these people make sure I feel if they believe I am in a place to help them and I don’t, is unfair and I now know it’s not personal when they judge me as being tight or stuck up, but it sure does make me angry. Why should I have to feel guilty for not providing them with something that I can’t necessarily even give, and that I wish I had myself? After all, I am a starving student, and yes I have lived in extreme discomfort, but haven’t we all? And I’m sorry, but I don’t support what you stand for when you can’t even really tell me what my name and address will be used for after I sign your petition, or go to your movie.
Instances like what happened that morning reassure my belief in the way I feel about freely and thoughtlessly handing out my signature or my money to people that think it is owed to them.
When it comes to tough decision-making, especially when the easy way out is the most offensive way out as well, I think it shows true character in how one handles their choices.