I recently had a conversation about the small animals I sponsored on a monthly basis and it had me thinking about my contributions to help the homeless. Why is it easier to give to animals on a regular basis but with the homeless there is such scrutiny about whether they truly need financial assistance? Perhaps it comes from the experiences with homeless people who in fact have not been homeless but working as a homeless person and finishing the working day to go to their place of residence. Therefore, duping strangers by appealing to their emotions. Does the layperson know enough about the many forms of homelessness to decide who are those in needs in comparison to those looking to profit off of other’s generosity? Homelessness is not just based on the central focus of rough sleepers we see on TV.
From the Public Health Module of my course we explored the homelessness figures that included estimates of hidden forms such as those living on friends’ or relatives’ sofas for long or short periods of time. How can we meet the needs of others or serve our community both humans or animals when we do not know what or where their needs are?
In the past when I have carried cash (as I don’t like to carry physical money), I have offered whatever change I had at the time. Depending who I was with it was met with a smile or furrowed brows. Sometimes it’s difficult when you give to the homeless and you see or smell signs of substance abuse and you give because you want to help but you’re concerned and later hope that your donation was not part of the funds that allowed them to buy their last hit before an overdose.
On the other hand, who are we as human beings to judge another living the way they choose to live. I don’t know their struggles, what they could be trying to numb or escape from. Also, maybe it’s an assumption on my part to think they want to escape what if they simply like the way substances make them think or feel. Sometimes behaviours are also habits. Whether consciously we know what’s right or wrong, good or bad or the constructs are formed by our own experiences or and government laws. Sometimes we just fail to challenge our own actions. Human beings can and do continue along the same path somewhere in some aspect of their lives. Whether that’s routines like eating the same meals from different restaurants, getting irritated if something has not been returned to the location where you usually store it or what brands you like to buy.
I think our differences: in terms of quirks, drives or habits are what make humans so fascinating. There are entire schools of thought, which includes research designated to understanding human behaviour. I think this understanding has led me to give with good intentions and hope for the best for that person not because I am such a good person or want others to think I am such a good person but because at the time I saw a need, I had to means to fill the need so I did. Also, probably because I can pull from my own experiences that as quickly as someone rises, they can also fall. Life is an unseen journey, perhaps there is some selfish thought behind the act of generosity though delayed, as in am I giving to others in the instance that I am in their predicament someone might also make a gesture in kind towards me? As I am writing this, this is what I have just thought about but then would I need to think this way if wealth was more distributed in society and there was no one percent. Will I still give so readily when I have the means to support others? Is giving to others, animals or general altruism a nature or nurture expression? They say money attracts money but what about greed? What about poverty? Do we have these sayings to soothe ourselves from the reality that keeps some destitute and others economically flourishing despite the scales of changes from tax breaks to global disasters.
In a sense, I guess it is easier to sponsor an animal. The cute photographs or fluffy friends and email updates of seasonal activities in comparison are more manageable and make for a pleasant experience. They do not come with the sense of responsibility to increase your contribution if it is shared that the recipient has children that would also be in need. Nor the afterthoughts of what next for the person you meet. Then again who’s to say I am not in need? To reiterate life is complex I think interpretation helps us feel better or worse with time. A group pf people could look at the same person and make completely different or similar assumptions. It depends on who’s looking or judging. I do not currently own a fast car or a grand estate but I am happy and wake up every morning excited about life and the people in my life.
How can I expect much else if instead I sat in a lack mentality? Surely, I would miss the opportunities popping up from unexpected places whilst feeling sorry for myself or disheartened. This written reflection is probably why I always advise people to do what they can live with.
I got it from my Mama. Well, that’s what my Mum always said to me “Do what you can live with” and it stuck so now it’s all I will say to you…
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2020 All rights reserved.
All the best