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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Moral Dilemma

These days I see more and more people sitting on the corners of streets holding signs, asking for money. My heart goes out to the people I see but what do you do when you see these people? Do you turn away? Do you give money and hope for the best? I have done both and if I'm honest with myself, I have to say, both doing something and doing nothing makes me uncomfortable.

I am uncomfortable giving money to these strangers because it's always possible they aren't genuine. Stan has been burned by the scammers out there who give you the story about being out of town and out of gas so could he please spare $30 bucks to fill up the tank? Maybe these guys are honest but I just don't know. I do know the scared and cynical mama in me says they aren't what they make themselves out to be. I was approached in the middle of a parking lot by a man in a car and he gave me the same story Stan has heard a number of times. He was sitting in a running car. He tried to call me over but Claire and I were together and my only thought was to get Claire away from danger. As I walked into the safety of the store I began to question my moral compass. Did I do the right thing turning away from someone who could have truly needed help?

Then there is the flip side ~ when you actually give money to someone. It makes you feel good and like you are doing something right but are you? There is a man I regularly see asking for money on the corner. I saw him walking into to Target one day so out of morbid curiosity I followed him. I wanted to see how he spends the money he collects from passing cars. I felt a little stalkerish in my quest to follow him around Target but I couldn't stop myself. The cynic in me thought he would certainly head to the wine aisle. Nope. Then I thought maybe he would head to the cough medicine aisle. Nope again. I then thought, as I trailed him through the store, was maybe he was truly hungry and in need. He finally stopped and picked up a package of Depends underwear. How do you process THAT information?

So, my moral dilemma is this...how do we teach our kids to be good and kind and generous without getting taken advantage of? I need to know how to give them a good moral compass without getting scammed. It is my moral dilemma of the day and I would love a good answer for the love of everyone...

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