What do you really see?

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The image is funny. No doubt about it. But if you look closer… what do you really see?

A friend once told me to stop giving money (or sometimes food) to “beggars” because he said sometimes they are just lazy, drug addicts or making a career out of it. In my defense, I told him what if at that moment that guy really needed the money to just have one decent meal. How can you tell if he is that person you judged him to be? I am not discounting the fact that he maybe right sometimes, but to generalize has never been my cup of tea. I have always believed that no one will subject themselves to that kind of humiliation (begging for food or money) if they could find another way to earn a living.

So I continue to give whenever I have something to spare. And sometimes I have to go back inside the store and have my money broken into smaller bills so I could share it with the person waiting outside. It is unfortunate that we have perfected the skills of rationalizing why helping others is not good: “They should find a job”, “he looks strong enough to work”, “she’s just lazy”, “they will use the money to buy drugs” etc. That if we try to help we become enablers.

I refuse to spend a single minute of my time judging why they got into that situation. I hold on to the belief that everyone wants a better life. And who would wish this kind life on themselves? Labeling people to make us feel less compassionate towards others is an easy path to take. Beggars, homeless, derelicts etc. in the end they are just people like us. Giving a dollar away will not make me impoverished, but to the other person it maybe be the last dollar he needs to buy his meal. We will never know their story, but with one act of kindness you have earned your part in one of the pages of their struggles as the stranger who saw their humanity.

“Compassion will not make me poor. In fact, I feel a lot wealthier when I see a weathered face frame a grateful smile and a shy thank you escaping from a parched lips.” — Dodinsky


About the Author

Dodinsky is the author of the NY Times bestselling book IN THE GARDEN OF THOUGHTS. Follow him on: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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