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.