This is not a judgment of street people. I fully support helping one-on-one or through charitable donations where possible. This is more a caution that we should not judge anyone’s circumstances. Unless we know someone really well, indeed are her confidante, we have no way of knowing what she might be going through or what her financial situation is.
My husband and I have jobs (albeit mine is part-time), a house, two cars in the driveway, a dog, so I get that in terms of acquisitions, we have it better than many. We do, however, also have expenses—car payments, insurance, property taxes, utility bills, home phone, mobile phone, food, etc. We have a daughter whose university education we are partially funding, and a son who will be enjoying the same later this year. Sometimes there are major projects to be done, like the new roof we had to put on last fall lest the rain come through the ceiling. All of this means we are often living paycheque to paycheque. And yes, I realize that this still doesn't put me on the level of someone who lives on the streets.
For a while I’d been thinking of this reality—that we don’t know another person’s straits—and then, on what was already a bad day, a homeless man approached and asked me for change.
I told him I didn’t have any and we both continued walking in opposite directions, but no sooner had he passed me than I heard, “Have a heart, lady.”
Have a heart? Have a heart? Why didn’t he have a heart? I fumed. I flung prudence to the wind and shouted over my shoulder, “Hey, you have no idea what I’m going through!”
I think he responded with, “Have a nice day,” or something like that, and I do wonder if I made my point or if he just thought, “crazy lady.” Whatever the case, the fact remains: we don’t know what circumstances others are facing—if they’re on the verge of bankruptcy or divorce, if they’ve just received news that they have a terminal illness, or what.
You know the saying about assumptions: “Assume' makes an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'.”
Let’s be kind and show each other a little grace. Really, let’s have a heart.