Monday, August 11, 2014

Homeless Giving Back

There are several videos that show someone inside a restaurant asking the patrons for some of their food. After they refuse, the scene changes to a street where a homeless man is sitting. Someone gives the homeless man some food, such as pizza or a couple of hamburgers and walks away. A few minutes later, the person who was asking for food before comes by and asks the homeless man for food. The homeless man gives the person food. Then the video ends with “Sometimes, those with less give more.”

There is some truth to that. People who have been doing without have a better understanding of the difficulties that causes. I’m reminded of the woman Jesus told of who gave all she had while the rich religious leaders were just making a big show of giving.

But the videos are flawed. The way the guy approaches those in the restaurant and how he approaches the homeless guy are very different. In the restaurant, he ambushes people. “Can I have a slice?” How do you expect people to act in a restaurant if a stranger comes to their table and asks for their food? The way he is dressed gives no indication that he is unable to pay for his own. Why doesn’t he just go buy his own?

Out on the street it is different. The homeless man has finished eating. The homeless man probably still thinking about how nice it was for someone to give him food. The video guy approaches him and doesn’t ask “can I have a slice” but rather, “do you have any left?” After the homeless man understands the question he asks, “Do you want some?” After take a slice of pizza from the box, the guy making the video sits down with the homeless man and eats half the pizza. He gets up, gives the homeless man a weak handshake, while looking in in the direction he wants to go rather than in the man’s eyes.

This is an aside, but let me just say that if you’re going to shake hands with someone, given them a firm handshake and look them in the eyes throughout the whole handshake. Nothing aggravates me more than an improper handshake.

But back to the video. I’m not sure how I would respond if a fashionably dressed person ambushed me in a restaurant to ask for food. I can, however, think of a similar situation. I was buying gas one day. A man carrying a four gallon gas can came up to me and asked if I could spare half a gallon of gas. I suppose he would’ve asked several people until he got as much as he needed. I hesitated for a moment, but then I stuck the gas nozzle in the can and filled it to the top.

I avoid giving money, but when there’s a way that I can provide for a need, that’s different. Despite what is shown in the video, I think many people are willing to give to people in need, but they have to understand what the need is and it has to be convenient. I don’t expect many people will give strangers food off their plate, but if they had some left after they’d eaten, they might have. Or if the person had asked before they ordered their meal, they might have gladly ordered extra. The video tells the story that the videographer wants to tell, but I don’t believe it is the complete story.