There but for the Grace of God go I

Holy crap is it hot! It is so FRIGGIN hot outside I’m surprised I don’t just burst into flames when I step out my door.

Ok, we don’t have it nearly as bad here as the mid section of the country that’s getting it with 100 degree weather… or those folks in Arlington, TX or the folks in the Southern California and Arizona deserts but it is pretty smokin hot down in here on the Gulf Coast Plains.

I had to go downtown into the concrete jungle yesterday and the ground temperature was amazing. You could feel the street’s heat right through your shoes.

I really shouldn’t complain though. I’m so fortunate and lucky. I mean really… I’m here complaining about the heat and I suffered through it for all of what?… four minutes of walking from my parking spot to the building I was going to and then relief.

But it got me to thinking, what if I had no place to go to get relief? What if I lived on the streets? What if I were homeless? Where would I go?

I gave money to a lady the day before yesterday who is not so lucky or fortunate. Actually I don’t know her story at all whether she’s lucky or not but I wouldn’t want to be in her position.

She came up to me and asked me for a dollar.

“just a dollar?” I said.

“yes, that’s all I need.”

“well… umm [deist looks in his wallet], i’ve got a couple I can spare.”

“God bless you. Thank you. Thank you.”  And she walked off.

As I walked in to the air conditioned restaurant we were standing in front of, I heard a young woman saying to someone else, “it’s a scam, she’s ALWAYS there BEGGING for money.” She said it with disdain in her voice.

I walked up to the counter feeling as though everyone was looking at me with the same disgust they had for the beggar woman because of my enabling act.

I struggle with what to do though when it comes to giving money to homeless people. I struggle because I know what it’s like to be really hungry. When I was young we were poor and lots of times I went to bed hungry. I struggle because I know what it’s like to be without a home. When I was young we got evicted… a few times and my mother and four siblings and i were at the mercy of friends.

I struggle because I think of the teaching by Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher attributed as the author of the Tao Te Ching, that says if we give a man a fish he eats for a day.  If we teach him to fish he eats for a lifetime.

And then there is the teaching from the Christian Holy Book that says those who are righteous are those who feed and clothe the hungry.  Mat 25:40  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”

The lady I gave money to said she needed just one more dollar so she could get a hotel room for her and her daughter.  I didn’t see her daughter anywhere nor do I even know if she has a daughter.  For all I know she wanted a hotel room to turn tricks or she was gonna buy some liquor or score a rock. I don’t know.

Maybe I was enabling elicit behavior.

She appears to qualify though as “the least of His brothers” .

I don’t know what to think…   I’ve been there myself though and I feel really bad for those who are hungry and without a home, because the immediacy of the situation is they need relief but I certainly don’t want to feed their addictions and demons.  Either way… they need relief.  What Would UU Do?

[Deist thinks to himself as he looks out the window of his air conditioned office, “Dammit it’s hot out there.”]

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One response to “There but for the Grace of God go I

  1. Wonderful entry about a very tough subject. In San Francisco I often gave money and was chastised about it. Then I started giving to organizations, but often those organizations seemed to be helping only a few and the people working there seemed to be doing fine. It is a tough question with tough answers. I know I am grateful for the relief I get from the heat.

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