Last Tuesday in class I brought up two words - Homeless and Panhandling - and then watched as the conversation ran away, without any further help from me. My goal was to get my students to think objectively about a very emotionally charged topic - something they all had opinions on. We talked about binary thinking (either-or) and critical thinking (more than 2 sides to the story). It was a great discussion.
Recently an LDS Bishop (pastor in the Mormon Church) dressed up as a homeless man, and then attended his congregation's worship service, to see the reaction of his congregation; he revealed his true identity during this meeting. An interesting concept and quite the conversation starter! (A pastor in Tennessee did similar.)
Many communities are pushing for folks to not contribute money to "pandhandlers" (often showing that panhandling is a scheme and detrimental to the truly needy), rather asking those who give to panhandlers to donate to shelters and other venues that help out folks in need.
I keep thinking about a scripture in the Book of Mormon, "For behold, are we not all beggars?" I know I certainly am - whether it's begging for one more hour of sleep, for this week's budget to go just a little further, for yesterday's snowstorm to be delayed, for my honey to remember to mail a package, for my students to "please turn in your assignments on time," for the light to stay green just a little longer, for the next oncology appointment to be positive. Maybe I'm not on the street corner with a sign, but I am nonetheless dependent on the goodness of others for so much.
I don't want to be deceived, but I don't want to be hardened toward the needs of others.
4: 17-19. 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself
his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of
my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great
cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he
perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the
same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food
and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which
we have of every kind?