22 March 2010

Guilt


There's always a man or a woman at the corner when I drive up. Doesn't matter the time of year; they're out there rain or snow or hot, humid day. I think they take shifts. I drove by one day at "shift change", I heard one say to another, "The pickin's aren't so good today."

Sometimes I drive an extra five minutes around, just so I don't have to pass them.

Their signs say different things. "Homeless, anything helps." "No job, no money. Please help." I can't look them in the eye as I drive by. I tell myself that I want to help the world, but I can't even stop to help these sad, desperate people. It's not like I drive a fancy car and give the impression of money. I'm pretty sure that my yellow, rusty, missing one mirror, 2001 Ford doesn't put me in the "has it all" category. But it still gets me from Point A to Point B, warms in the winter, cools in the summer and carries the things I need.

It's more than they have. Even if it needs new brakes and wants to kill when it idles.

I wasn't paying attention today when I left the store. I turned right instead of left and got caught at the red light. I so desperately wanted to give the elderly gentleman something. I don't carry cash. The only thing I had to give was a banana. "But they're green." I thought to myself. Would he take it? Would it be insulting? A banana, who gives a homeless man a banana?

I drove by him. I couldn't look him in the eye. I had more than he, yet I still had nothing I could give.

I want to teach my daughter the importance of giving. To share what little she has with those who have nothing. What kind of lesson am I giving her when I pass the corner and leave those people empty handed? How does one teach compassion, empathy, giving to a child? I try to teach by example, but if it's hard for me to give, what am I teaching?

2 comments:

  1. Well, I learned my lesson the hard way as a kid, twice. I used to give money to people on the streets all the time, then I learned better. Once I saw the man who I gave my last couple bucks to get into a BMW to go home. I went home upset and my dad explained that in the city, begging at "tourist" areas makes good money...lesson one. Lesson two came when I gave my "Taste of Chicago" tickets to a man thinking he could only use them for food and therefore it was a good thing, and I watched him buy beer with them.
    From then on I have been someone who donates money to organizations who have the power and understanding that I do not.
    As for teaching my daughter and son, I will. My daughter has to choose animals from Heifer to give for Christmas and her birthday every year. We discuss how these animals help people around the world. I will also be following my sister's footsteps in her sons' allowances. 10% goes to charity and 10% goes to taxes. The taxes go to helping their teachers buy things (public use) and the charity can go to any organization they choose.
    Lastly, I think having kids learn to share and taking joy in others' joy is the best way for them to understand why they should do good. At the age our kids our at, they are egocentric by nature; by teaching them to share and to give to friends I think we make the impact we want in the long run.
    That's just my thought about the entire thing. You should know that I also divert my eyes and try to avoid certain intersections and even with all I do I still feel horrible doing it.

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  2. Lauren, thanks for your thoughts! I love some of your ideas, especially the savings part and the giving through Heifer International. And I agree, I do think teaching our kids to share and respond when they hurt someone or someone's feelings goes a long way. Especially at the age they are. Which is little, at least for now. :)

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