Good Samaritan or Enabler?

Do you give money to people who are begging on the street or in front of a store?

As a general rule I don’t, I do what 99.9% (made up statistic) of the population does, I look the other way and pretend that the person wearing tattered and dirty clothes, shivering in the cold is invisible.

Tuesday night is often Subway sandwich night in my house.  Christian gets the Italian BMT and I get Turkey and provolone, for dessert we treat ourselves to a couple of cookies.  We’re very fortunate. We don’t have to worry about food and although our house may seem chilly at 68 degrees, it’s tropical compared to sleeping outside in the winter.

Last night I parked between Subway and the State Liquor Store and did my best to avoid making eye contact with the man cradling a clock in his hands.

“Miss, can you help out a homeless man?” He said softly.

I heard shame and desperation, but I looked at the ground, shook my head and walked briskly into Subway.

I couldn’t shake the image of him or the sound of his voice.  The thought of ordering him a sandwich came to mind, but I didn’t know what he would like.  In reality he probably would have eaten just about anything.

Seven dollars wasn’t enough to pay for my sandwiches but I took it out of my wallet anyway.  I folded the bills in my hand and it occurred to me that I wasn’t holding seven dollars, it was a meal and a 45 minute break from the cold.  It didn’t escape me that it might also be a cheap bottle of wine.

He accepted the money with a cold and calloused hand, “Bless you for helping me, bless you.”  I looked up from my car just in time to see him enter the sandwich shop.

I don’t know what prompted me to give him the money but it felt right and I’m glad I did.

Is giving money to a homeless person being a good Samaritan or an enabler?  It might be both.

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15 thoughts on “Good Samaritan or Enabler?

  1. Gods Word says “Our works are as filthy rags”. He also commands that we take care of the poor and homeless, widows and fatherless. We need to stop looking and over thinking what they do with the money, it’s really non of our business, It’s Gods. Just knowing that God is pleased should mean everything. Thank you for opening our eyes to the blessings we truly have, you have inspired us.

  2. It is difficult to know what to do sometimes Beth. I think each situation we encounter may be different. With your uncle in the profession he is in, it becomes a case by case decision, He has been “had” more than once. On the other hand we’ve had many times when our hearts knew it was right to give regardless of the outcome. Back in my college days, working @ the state hospital, many of the people who had food & shelter there have since been allowed to “make it on their own”. We now see them as you did tonight. Here in Fargo, ND, supposedly the great state to live in now, our shelters are overfowing every night and churches have started opening their doors to allow the homeless(including families!) to stay in a warm place overnight. Having given you my litany, I feel you did the right thing Beth. And you are right in that it becomes a web of Good Samaritan & enabler. I think we can safely let the “Power” above to use your deed for good:)

    1. It makes me feel like we each have to find a way to shed some light in the world, and sometimes that’s following your instincts and giving a man who is cold and shivering seven dollars. Sometimes we may be duped, but in the end does it really matter? If we each reach out in sincerity and help our neighbors, how much better would our world be? yes, that was a rhetorical question 😉

      I can’t help but wonder what the clock meant to him.

      I feel I did the right thing as well.

      thanks Wallyn 🙂

  3. Even if possibly half the people are being “enabled,” they still are hungry and they are still people. Each has their own unique story of what brought them to that point. Regardless of religion, I think the golden rule is a good thing to follow.

  4. While very few choose to live on the street, many do through a combination of circumstances we will never know or understand. Sometimes they just need a hot meal and a little help. Good on you for providing him with that.

  5. The movie that comes to mind is Will Smith and his son in “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Due to a series of adverse events, father and son end up homeless and with his extraordinary effort and intelligence, they survive and climb out of the dire circumstances.

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