What is more compassionate, feeding a hungry person or helping him feed himself? Everyone has heard the axiom ‘ feed a man a fish he eats for the day but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. So what would you do? Would you take this man down the the fishing hole and teach him to fish or just hand him a fish and walk away? I contend that the prudent thing to do is ask the man, or woman, what they want. If they answer they want a fish, they are in essence asking for a handout. That person will always be a burden to society and a slave to whomever gives him a fish. But if the man wants, teach him to fish and thereby free the man from dependency.

Today, it is so easy to just give in and give the fish to the man then turn your back and say ‘ what a good man I am for helping this hungry man’.

When I was younger and still living with my parents my mother went to the grocery store to do some shopping. On the way out, there was a man asking for spare change. It was obvious this man was inebriated. The smell of his breath was strong of alcohol. He proceed to play, or try to play his harmonica and begging for change. My mother told him she would buy him something to eat but not give him money. Once he realized he would not get money, he backed off to find another victim. That was an observation that I notice on several occasions of begging people. If they were really hungry, the offer of food instead of money would not deter the person. So I tried that tactic when someone asked me for money. A woman sheepishly asked for spare change and I instead offered to buy her something to eat. I took her into a sandwich shop and bought her a sandwich, chips, drink and a cookie and sat with her while she ate. I talked with her and listened to her. I treated her like a person. I offered to pay her to help me work in my yard. There is the difference…she accepted the food and company and was willing to work not just wanting a handout.

So, I prefer to be the more compassionate person and give of my time and money to someone only wanting a helping hand not a handout. That person will be more productive and appreciative of any help given and in the end, have more self respect than that person only looking for a handout.

So again I ask what would you do?

The Thinking Tinker

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