I lived in downtown Chicago for a few years, right next to a homeless shelter. At first, I gave away all my change -- I was being supported by student
loans and parents. I had more, thus I should give, right?
I was taught to give to those who needed it -- not because of the warm and fuzzy feeling of being generous, but because it's the right thing to do.
Then I discovered that good intentions and right actions can become jaded themselves because of the differences between homeless people.
I've been cussed out because a quarter wasn't enough. Or, less crude but not less rude, "Is that all ya got?" I've had homeless men grab the
cigarette right outta my hand! (Ironic part was that I had a cold at the time...) I remembered these people, and I outright refused to give them
anything. (In fact, one time I told a guy, "If you weren't being such a dick, I'd have given you something!" ...I still wonder if that was the
right thing to say...)
I know that living on the streets is tough, and it's quite difficult to not become jaded when people scoff at you constantly. But I fail to
understand how a complete lack of manners (never mind humility!) will somehow win people's hearts... or, rather, their change...
Those who do something, _anything_ for change -- they always
got my change. Offer me a construction paper flower with a sticker on the petal
and a staple in the stem. Offer me a poem. One guy, 'The Toad King', was the most down-to-earth homeless man I've ever met. I made sure *everyone*
I knew knew of this man, and gave him whatever they could afford.
I've seen kids playing 5 gallon buckets for drums. (They were damn good, too!) The cops were nice enough to let them play for an hour on one corner
before asking them to move across the street. I didn't see them often, but when I did, I gave them some money.
How do you feel about those that expect everything from everyone?
- I don't honestly know. Expected charity is not really 'charity'. And yet, there are so many people with too much
money, stuff, whatever...
I guess, to some extent, I have an expectation of these people who have too much to share that with those less fortunate. But it's not mandatory, and
forcing them to 'be generous' is not really charity...
Are you more inclined to give change to someone who doesn't appear to expect it?
- Like the people who just limply hold onto their paper cups, not even looking at the passersby anymore? Yeah. Break my heart every time I see it...
no hope at all. :shk:
Do you ever give change to homeless individuals?
- Only the ones that aren't assholes about it.
If you walk by and completely ignore a homeless individual, does it impact you?
- Every damned time. After a while, I kept my eyes to the ground so I didn't have to see them. But I knew they were there.
Do you feel that, since you have earned your own money, there is no excuse that they can not do the same?
- No. I sat down and talked with more than a handful of homeless people -- most of them had their ID's stolen. They didn't have a chance to
re-start. How can you prove that you are who you say you are without an ID? How can you fill out a job application without a permanent address?
I knew which tower by the lake front that Oprah lived in (the one that's slowly tilting over the lake!
). I often wished that I had money --
not to sit in my tower and eat bon bons and tell other people how to live their lives... But to help homeless people. Give them a permanent address, a
nice set of clothes, and money for the train. Help them re-gain their humanity that society (in one way or another) stripped from them.
Of course, I also knew an english teacher who took a homeless man into his home, fed him, even put him up for the night. Less than a week later, the
teacher came home to find his apartment cleaned out of all the electronics and "sell-able" stuff.
6 of one, half-a-dozen of another.
My parents refuse to give to any homeless person because they're jaded by the "professional homeless" that they deal with in Milwaukee. Meanwhile,
I've seen and talked with war veterans that were kicked to the curb...