I usually give money to people who are surviving on the street. It may end up in the liquor store but it is not my choice how others live. It is my choice as to whether I help my neighbour. I was in a plaza this afternoon and on my way out I noticed a man sitting in a wheelchair or scooter. I was driving and there were cars coming in as I approached the street. He had a towel over his lap as it was a drizzly day. I also noticed he had a container in his hand. I was slightly flustered. I was committed to driving but the coins in my pocket were calling out to me. Could I somehow swing closer and have my passenger get out to pass some money to this man? I put my eyes back onto my driving and exited the plaza. My next stop was Goodwill, I had some clothes which didn’t fit any more. As I left Goodwill my mind returned to the plaza. Should I drive back? I took the shortest route home.
I’m sure the man doesn’t want to sit outside of the liquor store on a rainy day. Why did I not go out of my way for this man? Why didn’t I stop in front of the liquor store? Do I really care if someone has to wait on the street for a minute while I do the right thing? I was more worried about horns than I was about this man.
Am I so different from this person that I can’t see him as a neigbour? I’m sure we are similar enough for me to understand his need. What separates this individual that he wouldn’t be worthy of my assistance? He is more disadvantaged by all appearance than I am. Other than that I think we are the same. He had parents, possibly siblings and even friends. He has been educated in some fashion. He has the same need for food and shelter. He has thoughts, emotions and possibly dreams.
Because I see him as my equal I feel guilty. Because I treat him as a stranger I feel shame.