On the 6 train as I was heading to work, a young man was asking for money, saying he was hungry. He didn’t smell bad or have on dirty clothes. So, not many people offered him change.
Nonetheless, I apologized and told him I didn’t have change (I didn’t). I had a donut and was going to offer it to him but he had already gone to the next car.
Two men started saying “Don’t feel bad. He is probably going to use the money to get high.”
My response was simple. “I wasn’t raised to pass judgment. What would giving him the change in your pocket hurt? If he is using it for drugs or drink, those are the demons HE has to deal with. What kind of demons do you have that makes you turn your nose up at someone who says he was hungry?”
Of course, they came back with the “If you’re down and out, you get benefits from the country. You can fix your life” argument.
I responded, “You never know someone else’s story. You never know what they’re dealing with and it is not your job to pass judgment, it is your job to make sure your spirit is cultivating kindness. These young people on the train seeing you so quick to be unkind see the example you set and will continue that example. I wasn’t taught that. You can’t sit there and praise God or whatever and then be unkind to someone less fortunate. Pull the change out and give. That’s all the universe is asking because the wealth that you have now…the roof over your head, the food in your belly, the clothes on your back, the change in your pocket can be easily taken from you. I pray that you never have to endure the shame you so easily cast on those that are asking for help.”
I started to ignore them and went back to reading when an older man sitting in front of me says, “You’ve set a good example, young lady. I’ve worked with the homeless and the needy for years and it’s a shame how many people don’t feel like you do….don’t see that helping others helps us. I feel better hearing someone your age speak with such heart.”