Thursday, February 7, 2013

Compassion: Don't Knock it

A woman I work with the other day had an interesting experience. While running an errand, she saw a man who seemed to be down on his luck, and in hopes of helping him along, she gave him a little money before going on her way.

And got shamed for it.

Apparently, the person behind her felt she was wasting her money and time. This person went on to tell her that there were other, more worthy places she could donate her money. Because after all, he was probably going to spend that money on booze.

This bugs the crap out of me. It wasn't any of that person's business what she did with her money. If she wanted to fling it off a parade float or wallpaper her living room with it, that's her decision. And no one knows the man's situation. Sure, he could be an alcoholic or even a professional panhandler. Or he could have lost his job, home, and family all in one fell swoop. Maybe he did buy a bottle of beer...or maybe he bought a can of food for the dogs he had with him.

The thing is, this person chastised her for being compassionate. We can't control what people do, but we shouldn't deny our urge to help someone on the chance they'll do the wrong thing. If we always followed the cynic in ourselves, then no charity would survive. We would always doubt that our money was really going to support cancer research or buy food for kids who might not have enough to eat outside of school. Maybe that puppy picture we got came out a store display. Or maybe we saved Fido by providing food and bedding for another week. Maybe that one week was all Fido needed to find a home.

Maybe that homeless gentleman is saving the money donated to him to buy a fresh outfit to interview for a new job.

I'd rather show a little compassion and think I helped someone than be cynical and know I didn't.

What about you? Have you been on either side of the coin? Maybe someone helped you out in a small way that left a big impression. Let me know! 

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