July 2018
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on being asked for help

"got any change?"
"spare a dollar?"
"help me out?"

I've been thinking on my reaction to being asked for money. I know that I am wildly rich to be able to go buy a fancy coffee if I want to. Of course, I'm also living on student loans so doing that is irresponsible, but I can, and that's a hefty privilege.

I try to check in with my own state of being when I am asked for help, whether that help be monetary or not. If it's a stranger asking for cash I feel strongly that if I'm carrying cash (which I almost never am) the universe is asking me to share that. Now if I was randomly carrying a twenty, I probably would not share it because I would not spend $20 on something I didn't need. But if I can afford to blow it on a luxury like a mocha, I can afford to give it away. This is affected by the fact that I don't often encounter requests for money -- when I move into the heart of the city I plan to never carry cash but instead carry food bars to offer if someone claims hunger. (Raw Revolution bars, Kashi crunch bars, odwalla bars, and powerbar's NutNaturals form a good third of my diet)

I feel that the act of asking for help earns it, as long as giving that help doesn't deplete me too much. I don't consider it my responsibility to discern how the cash will be used. This is not philanthropy or naivete -- I imagine that some of the people asking for money are very good at it and don't have real need, and I'm not trying to fix anyone's problems. But for me, this interaction isn't about me and an individual, it's about my attitude toward life. If I am unwilling to give what I can spare, I feel that I close off the flow of generosity in my life. I feel that if I maintain a generous attitude, I will receive what I need when I need it, and then some. I also feel that it is far better to risk rewarding a liar than to risk ignoring genuine need. And even if a dollar won't help someone in any lasting fashion, I feel that honoring someone's request for help DOES help in a lasting fashion.

I don't give with expectation of direct reward -- but I do expect that my life will be better if I give. By asking me for help, people are showing me a way to create a flow of good into my life. We're helping each other out.

LJ idol season 8, topic 2: "Three Little Words."

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(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
your comment made me really happy <3 *hugs!*
minnesattva ══╣╠══
I'm so happy to hear (well, read) someone else say this

Oh there are definitely many who think so, perhaps just less vocal than those who are happy to let fellow humans suffer out of selfishness or spite or greed or misplaced ideas about whether we can afford it (for any given "we").

I remember being out with my two sisters-in-law, and one of them gave a bit of money to a street person who asked for it. The other chided her, declaring the person would only use it "to buy drugs." Well, the first said, if I was homeless, I'd want some drugs to help get me through! I had to laugh at that (though she was deadly serious) and I've loved that attitude ever since.
aerialmelodies ══╣Divination╠══
I much prefer to share food, though the reaction I often get is "I said I wanted money, not food." If I were homeless, I would want to be able to eat, and while that may not be what everyone wants, it's certainly a need and I feel far more comfortable knowing I gave someone a nice bite to eat than money for drugs (legal or non) or alcohol. It may sound like a stereotype, but I've seen it happen one too many times: Someone get asks for money and then the person who received it immediately walks into Kroger to grab cigarettes. If I'm going to give something away, I'd like to know it was appreciated and used to help. The couple of times I've gotten a "Wait, you're giving me food instead of money? THANK YOU" it makes me feel like I've done something worthwhile to make someone else happy even if for just a moment. I realize that comes off as selfish, but it's hard to put into words the ease I feel spending money to provide needs for people in need versus watching $5 go to something a person in need simply wants.

Anyway, I commend you on trying to do this. It can be hard to trust people knowing that some are con artists, but hopefully you'll reach out to a lot of those who truly are in need as well. <3
Grass Between My Toes
aerialmelodies ══╣Grass Between My Toes╠══
I should note that this is what I come across in the heart of the city - I never come across this further out so I imagine the kinds of people in need will vary. It's unfortunate that Atlanta boasts a lot of con artists over people truly in need, but I love your idea of having some bars on hand that could be given out to people who ask for something.
belenen ══╣voltaic╠══
The few mobile people I've been friends with will NOT turn down food. If someone can afford to turn down food, they can also afford to go without what I could share (barring allergies, of course). I can understand the attitude of being only willing to share food. BUT I've also known people who smoked instead of eating because smoking kills your appetite, and for an addict cigarettes are a need also. It might be a need they could eventually get rid of, but I don't care about whether or not they prefer poisonous appetite-suppressants or real food.

I personally get an equal amount of satisfaction no matter how the gift is used. I'm not invested in helping someone, just in practicing generosity.
aerialmelodies ══╣╠══
It's different for every person giving, to be sure, and the types of people one finds in the city's heart won't be the same as on the outskirts of town (i.e. the less touristy the area, the more trusting I am of the situation). Again, it's a personal gut feeling but I understand the other side. :)
minnesattva ══╣╠══
Yes, this, except I am interested in helping people, I just am not interested in believing that I know better than they do what they need.

(Cigarettes are also potentially even beneficial in surprising ways; there have been studies showing that nicotine activates parts of the brain that are damaged in some people with schizophrenia; a lot of people with mental health issues smoke, and people with mental health issues are also more likely to be homeless or insecurely housed.)
xochitl ══╣╠══
I usually don't mind giving to someone who doing something... anything besides flat-out begging. Playing an instrument, drawing art on the sidewalk, singing, whatever... I just can't bring myself to give anything to anyone who walks up to me and says, "Gimme a dollar."
belenen ══╣eccentric╠══
heh, if someone TOLD me what to do they would not be getting anything from me.
xochitl ══╣╠══
I've encountered some really rude, aggressive people. I smoke, and never mind giving a cigarette or two away, but one time I was smoking menthols and a homeless woman REFUSED them when she saw they were menthols... then told me I should go across the store to buy her a pack. how bout no! o_O
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣writing╠══
noodledays ══╣╠══
I like what you've expressed here, and it's a beautiful way to see things and reach out when you can.
rabid1st ══╣╠══
basric colored bubbles
basric ══╣basric colored bubbles╠══
Well written. I liked it.
sweeny_todd ══╣moo╠══
I agree! and this is what I try to do myself.

My sister still reminds me of the time I gave away our vegemite sandwiches to someone who said he wanted food. I don't often feel comfortable giving money, but if somsone needs food/train ticket I will buy that :-)
baxaphobia ══╣╠══
Nicely said for sure!
frecklestars ══╣finding╠══
I like the unique angle you took on this prompt. This also reminds me that I need to learn how to better ask for help.
m_malcontent ══╣╠══
You are a generous spirit. Enjoyed the entry.
bewize ══╣╠══
This is a really incredible testament. Well done!
n3m3sis42 ══╣╠══
I'm glad there are people like you in the world. :D
pixiebelle ══╣╠══
I also feel that it is far better to risk rewarding a liar than to risk ignoring genuine need.

THIS. If only more people would see THIS. Wonderful line.

I can't help but want to give when someone asks to. I remember being in Chicago, pulling out my wallet to give some change and my ex pulled me away frantically "You don't talk to those people! They could rob you!"

It made me so sad... I never carry cash on me these days, but if I do... I give it when asked.

Nicely done!
gingergirlslove ══╣╠══
I generally give the change I have following like you said, better to risk rewarding a liar than ignoring genuine need. Another way I look at it is, if they did not use it appropriately...it hurt them far more than me, at least I gave them the few bits they asked for.
tjoel2 ══╣╠══
Sort of like Karma?
roina_arwen ══╣╠══
You make some very valid points. What goes around comes around! Good luck this week. :)
imafarmgirl ══╣╠══
Well said. This was a great entry.
muchtooarrogant ══╣╠══
A very nice philosophhy, well expressed.

attheonesix ══╣╠══
Agreed, and I wish more people would come at life and helping people like this. Thanks for sharing.
Mona Lisa Impression
karmasoup ══╣Mona Lisa Impression╠══
There's been a lot of debate about whether one should or shouldn't... I think each person should make his or her own decision, not one put upon by someone else's concepts or social standards, and then be able to defend it for reasons that make sense to him or her, and comfortable about it. You've done just that here, and I commend you for it. Thanks for sharing.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.