“Mama, don’t forget food for the man.”

We were running late, and I barely remembered what the context of Million’s reminder was.
And then it hit me.

“The man” is a professional beggar that begs at a corner near Michael’s work every day from 3:30 until 4:05.  And then he hops on a bus and begs at a different corner a few miles north.

A few days ago, on a whim, I asked Million if he saw that man.  We talked about how he must be cold because he doesn’t have a house, and he might be hungry.  Ever since then, Million has been talking about “the man.”

The first day that Million reminded me to pack some food, “the man” was not at his typical intersection.  Million proposed that maybe the man had found a home.  I felt a strange feeling of relief in the pit of my stomach.

The second day, “the man” was there.  It felt so inconvenient.  The light was about to turn green; the man was several lanes away from my car door.  And then it happened.  “The man is there! Mama! The man is there!”  And I knew, in that second, that my son was watching me to see if I would be generous and kind or if I would ignore the man and drive on by.
Fortunately, this time, I got it right.  I handed the man a bag with soup and other food items, and drove by.  And Million has been glowing ever since.  He repeatedly tells Michael, “Mama said, ‘here’s soup for you’, and the man isn’t hungry now.”

I got it right this one time.  But how many times have I gotten it wrong?  How many times have I driven by this SAME man?  How many other hurting and wounded people have I passed by?  Why do I suffer from a cultural double-standard of feeling compassion for beggars in other countries but avoiding or ignoring beggars in my country?  I didn’t question how people in Ethiopia would use any money that I gave them.  Why do I hold beggars in America to a higher standard? 

Soften my heart, Lord, for the needs of “the man” and any others that You choose. 

4 Comments

  1. I think the reason for the double-standard is that in a poverty-stricken nation we assume a beggar is truly in need and in America, that may or may not be the case. Regardless, we are called to have compassion though. We keep care bags in the car for just such occasions. Thanks for the reminder. I need to make some more today!

  2. I think the reason for the double-standard is that in a poverty-stricken nation we assume a beggar is truly in need and in America, that may or may not be the case. Regardless, we are called to have compassion though. We keep care bags in the car for just such occasions. Thanks for the reminder. I need to make some more today!

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