“I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.”
Panhandling is the act of public begging. It is considered illegal in many cities across the country. Panhandlers may use signs, pets, and even children as tactics to get money. Panhandlers can be found standing on the corners of highway exits, shopping center entrances, and various other locations. What is your initial thought when you see him/her? Do you stare straight ahead for fear of making eye contact? Do you look with disgust? Do you smile, but keep your windows tightly rolled up?
I know that this is a sensitive topic for many and I can already hear people saying “they are just using the money to buy drugs and alcohol. Why would you give them money to feed their addictions?” I myself use to see panhandling from a very different perspective. I was that person who kept their windows rolled up. I would never give money to a panhandler because I always believed that they made the decisions in their life that put them in that position. I felt like they were too lazy to get a real job or accept responsibility. Although, there is some truth to that perspective, it is a very narrow, limited, shallow, and cold perspective.
Today, after doing the internal work on myself and finding my voice, I feel love and compassion for my fellow human being standing on that corner. Who are we to judge anyways. Some are truly in need, some mentally ill, and some making a living the only way they know how. Unless we have stopped to engage in conversation, we do not know his/her past or what he/she has had to trudge through. Many are military veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we get to enjoy. Many had turbulent upbringings that led them down the vicious paths of drugs and alcohol dependency. Although, I strongly believe that your past should not define you, I also understand that we all are not created the same. Maybe, just maybe, they are sitting there begging for that individual to come along who will direct them to the right path? Will you be that angel?
I am also thoroughly impressed with the fact that panhandlers are able to put their egos aside and ask for what they want. This is their job after all..one that I do not envy. They may stand out there in the rain, the cold, or the blazing sun. Panhandlers are going all in and putting themselves out there to be ridiculed and harassed. They are not embarrassed to ask for help.
Aren’t these some of the really big life lessons that we are trying to teach our kiddos? Go all in for what you want, don’t worry what others think of you, and don’t be too proud to ask for help. I am not encouraging panhandling in anyway. I am not telling kids to grow up to be panhandlers. I am strongly against using aggression, manipulation, and scare tactics to get what you want. I am just encouraging others to maybe see if from a different perspective. See the lessons that panhandlers have to teach. Afterall, some prominent businessmen also use their money on drugs and alcohol…let that sink in. If you are unable to offer them any money, then at least offer them the small act of kindness with a smile or some encouraging words. Maybe direct him/her to a local foodbank or shelter. Gift cards are also an option to discourage drug/alcohol purchases.
We are put in this space and time for a purpose and a panhandler’s just might be to remind us to be grateful for who we are and what we have. Although we might not be in the same biome, what resonates with me, may do very little for you, but you cannot deny that we are all connected. I prefer to show love and compassion to all of our fellow human beings whether they possess money or not. I teach my kiddos that if they are begging for the wrong reasons and being dishonest, then It will take care of itself. Its the laws of the universe. It is not our job to judge, but to love. We are ALL in this together!
“It is in giving that we receive.” Mother Teresa
Debbie & My Little OMies