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Reality Check: Signs of the Times


Seems like more and more people are on street corners in town with cardboard signs asking for help and money. My first thought is that business must be good. My next (and likely correct) thought is that more people must need help and money. I know there are lots of reasons that a person ends up on a corner holding cardboard, and those reasons don’t really matter to me.

I often hear people make comments like, “They just use the money for alcohol,” or “There are so many jobs available, why don’t they get one?” or “He doesn’t need the money, have you seen the truck that guy drives.”

I have a question: How could we possibly know any of that?

Sure, those might be correct statements, but they could also be completely wrong. If we don’t want to stop and give ‘em a dollar, fine. I just wish we’d stop using assumptions like those as our justification or excuse. We don’t need an excuse. I am not going to stop and hand out money because _____________.

You also do not need a reason to stop and give someone a little help. If we are going to assume anything, let’s assume that this person could really benefit from a five dollar bill. Do I need to know why they are standing there? Nope. Who cares? It feels good to help people. I’m glad it’s not me out there.

The truth is, I drive right past most. I like to help. Makes me feel good, and every now and then I do. The problem is that I will pass seven on my way home from work now, and I just can’t afford to help them all. Some will argue that there are real reasons we shouldn’t be helping. Could be true (although I doubt the person on the corner would agree).

I guess my point is that people need help. We should choose to help or not help for real reasons, not because there’s a handy assumption or judgment that allows us to comfortably look the other way.


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