August 3, 2011

Don't Let A Bad Apple Spoil The Bunch (Day 12 - August 3, 2011)

Eons ago when I was a lawyer, almost everyday I encountered someone who thought badly of lawyers (thus . . . all the lawyer jokes!).  It's absolutely true that there are some money-grubbin' ambulance-chasin' lawyers out there, but honestly they are very much an exception.  Most lawyers are more interested in helping their clients than screwing anyone.  However, that has not stopped the entire profession from being tainted because of some bad apples.

Every walk of life has a couple of bad apples that can spoil the perception of the rest.  Priests tainted by scandals . . . genius blonds who are pigeoned holed with a few of their lesser intelligent fellow blonds . . . and all bankers alleged to have their hands in your pocket.  Poverty is no exception.

Without a doubt, there are some poor people who milk the system, prey on sympathy, and lie.  I think I met one such fellow today.  He fed me such a line that sent my "BS" detector into an absolute frenzy.   However, for every one of these such fellows, there are volumes of people who silently endure their plight or fight tooth and nail just to survive.  The same goes for those suffering from poverty overseas.  Sure, there are those who are lazy and misuse what they are given, but the the vast majority are hardworking and simply trying to feed their families just like us.  They have to be hardworking or else they would be dead as it is not easy surviving when you have to eek out an existence in terrible conditions.

Like many, I'm not a big fan of panhandlers that beg for money like the fellow I met today.  I believe that even in dire need there are creative ways to ask for monetary help (e.g. wash a window, tell a joke, create a sign that produces a smile . . . ).  That said, we must remember there may be other issues at play with those people that may harass you on the street, and that they may truly need some form of assistance from others.  For example, they may be suffering from addiction or perhaps some form or physical or mental illness.  I suspect with the fellow I met today he may have some psychological issues and has fallen through a cracks.  (By the way, he was referred to a local agency where he will be able to talk with someone who will assess his needs and hopefully connect him with the help he needs.)

My learning for today is to remember that one cannot shut themselves off from helping others simply because there are a few who would take advantage of the generosity of others.  To shut yourself off from helping because you may be taken advantage of by a few bad apples only serves to hurt the many who really need and  appreciate your help. 
Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.


  1. M.A. from Vancouver IslandAugust 4, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    I have given to people who have their hat out for donations on numerous occasions. I don't know what they will do with the money BUT that doesn't matter because my INTENTION is to help them. I also really try to give the gift and then let go of it...I have no power over what the recipient will do with it. That's not always easy but I try. That said, I also pay attention to my intuition and so there have been times when I have changed my mind about giving just because something didn't feel right.

  2. I wish there were more people with your giving heart! Hopefully, with greater awareness there will be. And, I pray that, as we recognize that all deserve enough to survive and put in place the appropriate social safety nets, it will be less necessary for people to need to beg for handouts.

  3. Not all can be creative, true, but being so does help, it shows some initiative. I remember a First nation person who approached me with a story about needing his horse re-shoed after it lost its shoes running away from Custards Last Stand; he had me laughing so hard that I gave him $10 :)

  4. Wow, Sean. You've been a lawyer, a clergyman, an actor and now you're living like a homeless person. Clearly, you're drawn to those walks of life that are known more by their bad apples than honorable rest of the bunch. Next up, you should try journalism...

  5. Journalism, eh? Well, there's still time . . .