When I stay in city hotels I will take what I can get – the sugar, breakfast pastries, jam, water, free pens and paper, biscuits, pillow chocolates and fruit – and put it in my handbag to give to the first homeless person I see. If they have a dog or pet, I give them all my change or smallest note too. Sometimes I bag up half my lunch or buy a second sandwich to carry until I find someone. My reasoning is that a little kindness matters; you never know a person’s story and everyone is someone’s child. I would hope that someone would show me some kindness at my lowest point.
Last week I was in the big smoke. Amidst all the glamour and show in the CBD, I quietly gave a man with a dog ten dollars, and as I walked on someone scolded me for “encouraging” him. I stopped and smilingly suggested that the well-dressed mouthy matron keep her judgements to herself, on all counts. I wasn’t angry, just disappointed someone would spend their energy on berating strangers. If you don’t give that’s okay, but respect others’ rights to choose differently. I appreciate he might drink it, but he might not; and even my caring to stick up for him, and for me, might be a turning point.
I can be quick to sum up a person and a situation, no doubt I’m often wrong. I still believe a little charity, whether for the homeless man, his happy looking dog, or the hapless girl giving over her tram money, can go a long way. Nobody makes you have a giving heart. Nobody gives you the right to tell others how to live either. Somewhere in between, there’s a grace in giving up judging others. I am very comfortable being there.