Speaking of charities fun fact if you ignore the people they disappear

During this season in many places you see a growth in charities asking for donations. Most people don’t get that upset about asking online, or even if you have to press an extra button to recline giving at the cash register. But one thing I think we all have noticed, and maybe even done ourselves, is see those people standing outside of stores asking for donations and a few moments of your time. Some are less tension filled like some Santa ringing a bell and not really speaking to anyone and some are very much in your face filled with “ sir or mam” and followed by some practiced speech about what they do and how you can help. They routinely start and don’t stop even if you don’t look at them.

Which is what this post is about. People often just pretend they don’t even exist. They don’t smile, wave or even look at them. People may even get upset and go inside and complain. But most just ignore them. They don’t look at them when they go inside and just keep marching on like a thousand others and once inside shake their head and get their groceries and head out the other end of store just to avoid the people.

But there are some things to consider. Even if you don’t want to give and even if you don’t have 3 minutes to spare you can still acknowledge them. You can make eye contact and tell them the truth. “ I’m sorry but I’m not going to give”. They won’t be mad, and they won’t attack you and the crowds around want start throwing trash at you. If you plan out your grocery shopping and know what store you are going to you can even go ahead and plan to carry a $5 or whatever it is you give.

Some things to remember is that usually these people are probably nice people. They are trying to hustle as much as the next person. Many feel very emotionally exhausted at the end of the day from asking hundreds in a day where most jist pretend they can’t hear them. It’s something the homeless deal with as well. If a homeless person is next to a light when you pull up you may not even look even if they knock on your window. It’s very common.

But the problem is that you’re are essentially helping to cultivate this idea that these people are roaches. That they don’t deserve a wave, a smile or a minute of your time. Now there is definitely a secular philosophical argument for your time is your time and no one, or even kind charity workers, deserve a second. After all you owe them nothing. But as Christians we don’t have a claim to that really. You’ll be hard pressed to find Jesus supporting to just blow off people in need or those trying to help those in need.

It can be uncomfortable. But being a Christian is often uncomfortable. It often causes us a lot of stress to face even the kindest form of a confrontation and be honest that you are not giving.

I’m curious how does everyone handle it. Do you mostly ignore them? Do you cut them off and just say I’m sorry I’m not giving? Do you go through another door or pretend you’re on the phone? Do you just leave and drive to another store? Is there any benefit to giving these people a moment of your day even if you know you’re not giving? Have you ever stood outside of a door and asked strangers to give?

Should you feel bad if you don’t give? I don’t think you should feel bad but we often do. Not just from the stress but also because sometimes we know we could give but we just are not going to. There is all kind of internal stuff to work through for many people in this situation.

3 Likes

Matthew 5:40-42.

This has totally changed my habits.

Lovely post. I remember in years gone by, working in rural areas. Seeing other humans was unusual. You would always acknowledge them. Going back to the city, it seemed totally bizarre the way people would walk by one another as if they weren’t there. Even though I had done it myself before, and do it now. It’s definitely something worth pondering!

2 Likes

I always give an apology with a hand up salute and eye contact as I don’t do cash, unless they’re organized like Big Issue sellers and have a card reader, in which case I smile, nod and move on. Outside food stores I’m going in to I ask them what they want, they rarely want anything more than a latte. I emphasize anything, they never ask for anything significant, like a week’s shopping. Never. At one major store they all sit outside the exit that one does not pass by on entering at all, it’s tucked out of the way. So all I can give is the apology. So I ‘ignore’ the vast majority in effect and they’re always there.

You really have to go out of your way, build it in to your life to twitch a little finger in the direction of serving the poorest. That’s how I met my wife, so the enlightened self-interest benefits can be incalculable.

Every $ you give stops $10 of crime, there is that I suppose.

3 Likes

Something similar happened to me as well. I grow up in a small town in alabama and most of the time you even waved to strangers who waved back at you while driving down the scenic road at 22 mph. Even now when in the store if I’m getting tomatoes at the same time as another you can bet that almost every time one of us within a second will say “ hello” ‘followed by some statement. Yesterday it happened and this stranger who was probably in his 80s said he remembers the first time he had cherry tomatoes and that to this day he still prefers slicing larger tomatoes for his salad. So I begin talking about a cultivar called Mexican dwarf tomatoes that I want to try but have not yet had that is supposed to be about the size of a blueberry. It ended up turning into a 10 minute discussion of vegetable gardening that maybe we will see each other at the strawberry festival next year.

But when I moved to Portland, Oregon for a while I noticed it was different. When walking down the sidewalk along Columbia river towards the old apple tree and cherry orchard on Vancouver side I would sometimes greet a person as we was passing and they would just stare. The woman I was with at that time was like “stop doing that they think you are a beggar whose going to ask for something” and i was really confused. The worse was when I moved to New Jersey though in paterson. Learned to break that habit after waving and making eye contact with someone and they would launch into “ do I know you “ and begin to toss racial slurs at me and fight me. I was living with this older Dominican dude then from church while helping to work on his house. He finally told me that I should not even look at others that it’s a hateful place. On the trains just look down at my feet.

I was glad when i moved back to a small town where there was generally more kindness. That was all roughly 10 years or more ago. Many places are much more “woke” now days and so maybe it’s not as bad in as many places.

But it was definitely crazy to me seeing how it was common to just ignore someone talking to you while walking past them. Especially how often it’s elderly people asking for donations or help. When I was kid of I was outside playing and a neighbor said something like , “ hey I need you to come over here and help me lift up this fence “ I knew I had too. Did not matter if they were someone I barely knew. If I said no or ignored them, I would get in trouble by my parents or grandfather about respecting elders.

It’s a bit bizarre to sit back for 10 minutes and what how many treat door greeting volunteers for charity.

2 Likes

The only ones I have seen (close enough to identify) are the Salvation Army-associated ones, and we try to have ones on hand since they are at places we end up going (cumulatively) a few times per week.

We seemingly only see them when it wouldn’t be feasable to stop the vehicle (e.g., they are at the end of the median and we are five vehicles back). That may be because we only see one a few times per month.

For sure. I don’t think anyone would hold anything against one one at every moment. The focus is the heart and is it Christlike to view others as these Samaritans we just ignore and walk around or should we see them as people. If I’m speeding down the free way or 5 cars back and not next to them until it’s a green light and illegal and dangerous to stop traffic to talk for a few moments I’ll drive by. Anyone would I imagine.

With any general statement there is outlier examples. Typically these outlier examples are not the normal and don’t fit into it.

So interesting. Especially to read that the west coast and the east coast disappointed in different ways. I haven’t been to North America but this fits so well with what TV and movies portray. I bet in Portland, everyone is too busy thinking about tenure and Chardonnay to notice you, while in Jersey they’re too busy working out how to steal your radio and tires.

In Australia we have this thing, if you’re driving on a country road more than a couple of hours out of the city, every car you pass coming the other way, you raise one finger off the wheel as a wave. It’s not just for locals. In fact there is probably some element of “ok you’re not from round here, I have noted you in case you get up to no good”. But at the same time there really is just a social tradition of acknowledging every human being.

And in fact there’s a transition, where I live, in a commuter town. If I’m out running, 5-7AM everyone gets greeted. 7-9AM, I don’t greet women on their own. 9-11AM, groups get greeted but only in more remote locations. After 11AM if you say hi you’re a weirdo. I don’t understand this but this is what I have learnt by trial and error 🤷😅.

1 Like

We have that, too. I grew up in a suburb of a major city and it wasn’t until a family vacation when I was young when we visited a couple of uncles who where farmers that I learned that all roads weren’t paved. :slightly_smiling_face: Now we live just outside a town where the pavement stops at the city limits, except for the two major highways, one north-south and the other east-west. So on the gravel you frequently see and participate in the index finger ‘farmer’s wave’. Many or most would stop and help if someone were having a problem.

I’m glad our town is still small enough (30k-ish) that people still make eye contact.

2 Likes

I’m usually trying to look at the street or my kids so I’ve felt vindicated in walking right past, but this year something really convicted me to make eye contact and say hello and respond with a yes/no/answer to their question or comment about my kids.

2 Likes

I’m sure you’ve heard of the poignant Homeless Jesus sculpture. The native Americans once were criticized because many tribes were nomadic and whites considered that an inferior way of life, even though Jesus was homeless for the three years of his ministry, and even pointed that out.

2 Likes

Because it’s weird. Which is why it’s so funny when Mick Dundee does it in NY.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.