So, should you give money to a homeless person on the street? The biblical stance on this is yes.
Well, this topic came up at church last week. One person in the back chimed in and said, “What if I told you that statistics prove that 98% of the time the homeless person will use that cash to buy drugs and alcohol?” The person in the front, leading the discussion, said, “I don’t care.”
I agreed with the guy up front.
Sure, you’re giving money and there’s a 98% chance the money will be misspent. So, people like the guy in the back decide not to give 100% of the time to individuals.
Look, I don’t believe every homeless person on the street is actually a wealthy person living on the Intercoastal, okay? I wonder if the MEDIA throws these types of stories in our faces every so often in order to assuage our collective guilt. “See? He was a con artist! Therefore, I’m never giving money to any street person.”
The problem with that logic is that there are 2% out there who really do need help.
Here’s another way to look at this: we are not numbers. So, I think giving someone who is disheveled and clearly in need is worth it. I don’t worry about the 98% risk. Plus, my conscience is clear. I’m trying to help someone; if that someone abuses my good intent, that is on them. Besides, in this hectic life we live in, who has time to figure out if the homeless person is part of the 98% or 2%?
The only real solution to this, besides just donating to reputable charities, is to talk to actual homeless people and find out their story. Make a determination on the spot as to whether they are lying or telling the truth. I’ve done this recently on the DailySkew Podcast. I learned something about a person who was begging for money, and determined he was telling the truth.
You see, statistics can be used as an excuse from getting to know the real person. It’s like a catch-all, something we can use an excuse for not acknowledging a fellow human being in need. I think statistics are useful, but not a perfect substitute for actual conversation and human interaction.
Look, if you’re afraid to talk to homeless people, or don’t have time. That’s fine. If you’re at a stop light and someone is begging, it’s impossible to have a conversation. I get that. However, if you are like me and are willing to live without fear and take some risks, you might discover what is behind the numbers.
And, the person begging from you, even if they are lying, may feel a twinge of guilt for misusing funds from someone who took the time to say hello and strike up a conversation. Human interaction can make a difference. Believe it.
To hear my rant about Homeless People, click here.