Helping the Needy

One of the saddest realities of the modern day, is the strong difference of opinion on a variety of fronts, between people who are “intended to be” united.

An example of this comes to mind, in the form of a “reply” to a comment I made on a post on social media that was intended to encourage somebody who had done her best to help an apparently struggling individual.

The reply made implications—if not direct statements—surrounding my reply that showed that the person had a misunderstanding of exactly what I was trying to say.

I’m going to take a moment to clarify a couple of things I was saying, as well as to point out a “standing fallacy” among many folks in the modern day.

I urge you to understand that my interest is not to “attack” anybody, but to set the record straight on a couple of fronts.

The above being said, let me move on and address the things I want to discuss.

The first issue I want to talk about is the fallacy I stated exists (particularly among folks of a liberal mindset, but for some conservative and other folks as well). This is the idea that, “Most people are just one paycheck away from homelessness.”

This is a gross exaggeration to say the least. The fact is, if a person is making a paycheck to begin with, chances are exceptionally good that the person in question is eligible for “unemployment insurance” (and possibly other “benefits”) on losing their job. The result is, unless a person makes bad choices, that person very likely has a good six months they can work to survive on the various available “safety net benefits” that are supplied, all while looking for suitable employment.

This assumes that the person has no other source of either income, or support. This also, is largely not the case. Most folks have family, friends or both who can help them out one way or another for a time.

Further, unless a person is behind on rent or mortgage, the chances are exceptionally good, that they have months to deal with losing gainful employment from a position of having a place to stay.

Of course, nobody wants, much less likes to be unemployed, and those of us who are, seek to gain a position as quickly as possible. Further, I recognize there is a level of stress that comes with unemployment that can be very hard to deal with.

I’m not trying to make unemployment, or low pay sound fun or easy. All I’m doing is indicating that the truth doesn’t match the all too common narrative.

I think that’s sufficient for that topic, so let me proceed to the next.

People saying folks get where they are as a result of bad choices and/or want to be there, are just trying to keep from helping others.” This is, in a nutshell, the second thing I need to address. Essentially, the person who “wrote against” what I said, said him or her self, something roughly equal to that which I have stated above.

Unfortunately, the person in question fails to understand one of the most important lessons some of us “older folks” have come to learn as a result of our time on this planet. The lesson sounds simple, but many people fail to internalize it or even to recognize the truth in it.

The fact is, if you don’t know what’s causing a problem, you generally will only ever “fix” it as a result of “luck.” What that actually means is that most of the time, you won’t fix or help the person with it at all.

Recognizing that most of the people I have met who are homeless or otherwise “down and out,” are in that position as a result of personal choices is the first step to helping them to no longer be in that state.

I can throw a homeless person a couple of dollars (or even a hundred or more) as I walk by, and that in itself may or may not end up being a “good thing.” I’m going to say something that may sound at the very least controversial. Most of the time, it will not be a good thing.

About now, you may be asking, “Why on Earth would you say that?” The reason can be very simple, or greatly more complex. I’m going to give a simple example, as I’m trying to maintain sufficient brevity to not “overwhelm” the reader.

The fact is, many people who are on the street (probably most) are on the street as a result of drug abuse, alcoholism or both. There are those in the position stated on the basis of mental health issues, but many of them are also making bad choices that need dealt with. I want it understood that I am not attempting to castigate such folks. They’re dealing with something that may well be an illness in one sense or another. That being said, when you’re pretty well aware that the person in question will use resources funneled to them to acquire the thing that they need the least as a rule, you must realize that you are doing them no favors by giving them those resources.

To be clear that does not mean they are not in need of help, just that how you try to help really matters.

This brings me to the next topic. Summing the matter up looks something like this: “Help always looks the same for every person and situation.

I have learned an important lesson in my over thirty years as a parent. That lesson can be expressed in the idea that no two children are the same; nor do they require or even desire to be treated the same way.

You see, what will cause one person with a drug or alcohol problem, for example, to find themselves on the road to recovery, may have little to no effect on another such person. Each person must be considered as an individual and treated differently as a result of that fact.

I know that there are people who will hear what I have said, and decide that I am just trying to “not help the needy.” I cannot help or fix that for those folks, nor do I owe it to them to do so. What I need to be doing, is truly finding a way to help those in need—the badly broken folks (we’re all broken to some extent, that’s why I use the word “badly.”).

Last words. I’m not saying you should not do your best to help those in need, in fact, quite the contrary. What I am saying is, you may be doing more harm than good if you’re giving a person resources he or she can use to continue to harm him or her self. Please, I ask in all humility, seek the best course when helping others. Don’t just assume giving resources is the “end of your responsibility.”

Am I saying, “Don’t give?” May it never be so! Am I saying, “Give without concerning whether what you do will be harmful to those to whom you give?” Equally not the case.

As usual, thanks for reading, and may your time be pleasant.

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