Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Charity and Compassion

It was during the years I lived in Florida that I first began seeing men standing at intersections holding signs that read: Will Work For Food. At first, it was shocking in its newness; afterwards it became a personal conflict. I would often overhear groups of people talking about what a racket it was. They would say that limousines delivered the men to various corners. However, I had not seen this; could it be true or a lie? Then one day I was driving home from the grocery store. A man with a sign approached my car while I was stopped at the light. He was holding his sign to my window and looking in my eyes. I had to make a decision, it was no longer a matter for debate. It was there in that moment the world became silent. All the voices and arguments were gone. I had clarity. It was not my responsibility to decide if this man deserved my help or not. He was asking for food; I gave him a loaf of bread.  

What a relief and blessing it was once the decision was made. It is not my responsibility to judge whether someone else deserves to be helped.  When someone asks, give what they ask for. I did not give money, he asked for food. Where I live in Honduras, there is very little financial aid for those with physical limitations or the very ill. Often I’ll see a mother with a invalid child holding her hand out while standing outside a grocery store, a blind man with a brother or neighbor helping him request donations at a traffic light. There is generally some handicapped person in  a wheel chair holding out a jar at an intersection. People from other cultures can find these sights disturbing but within the culture here, there is a quiet understanding.

Those who have help those who cannot help themselves. I see it in so many levels here. If your life is blessed with a car then you financially aid those that are walking blind or in wheelchairs when they stand asking for help. If you live in a nicer house with a number of electric appliances, you pay the highest rate for electricity so that the poor who use little receive their electric free. The emotional benefit is a wonderful feel-good. There is also the added benefit of being free of guilt or shame in having while living amongst those who don’t. The benefit that comes on the energy or spiritual level is the highest reward. It is what is often referred to as The Golden Rule.