Street begging intimacy

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Street begging intimacy

Postby manolo » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:22 am

Folks,

A small English market town. There is a lady sitting in a shop doorway, she is about 50 years old, sad and tired. I see obvious mental health problems and despair. I stop and stand near her.

As I stand there a police 'community support' officer comes up and accuses her of begging. He says “You were begging, I saw you holding your hand out.” She says “I don't feel well, leave me alone, leave me alone.”

A young man walking past sees and hears this. He comes up to us and puts money into the lady's hand. The policeman turns to him, “Take that money back!” The young man looks at him and then walks away, leaving the money in her hand. The policeman harangues the lady until she starts to cry. He doesn't take the money from her.

I am sickened by this sight, but I don't have the courage to confront the policeman. I wait until he goes. Then I sit down with the lady (I find her name is 'Cherry') and talk a little. I give her some money. Cherry says only one thing to me, “I have lost my children”. I am close to her and see that there is no drink or drugs on Cherry but she does have serious mental health problems, something I know from working in adult education and care for many years. She is not well.

After comforting Cherry, I go off to have a cup of coffee and do my shopping. But I can't settle. I go back to the street and doorway. Yes, Cherry is holding out her hand. The sun shines on just a hand at the edge of the doorway. She knows what she does. I go back and give her all the money I have in my wallet. I give her a little hug. Cherry says “God bless you”, just as all beggars do.

Alex.

PS - I've posted here in philosophy, maybe wondering what themes the story illustrates? I just wrote down what happened yesterday.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Simple Minded » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:07 pm

Alex,

You did the right thing. Good for you.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Simple Minded » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:30 pm

Alex,

A little more thought on your post. 30 years ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with the family of one of her girlfriends. In attendance were the girlfriend’s mother, husband, sister, brother in law, brother and sister n law. Quite a mixture, upstate NYers, downstate NYers, Chicagoans, and DCers.

Hours of discussion ensued, and I made some observations, girlfriend, a downstate liberal NYer realized on that day that she had married a conservative. Mom was silent and let the children she raised to be adults have the stage.

At one point we discussed panhandlers. Brother and sister in law were both liberals, and NYC social service workers. They agreed with the cop you encountered. Under no circumstances should a citizen give money to a panhandler. NYC agencies existed for that purpose. So I asked “You want to control how that person behaves and how they might spend any money they acquire?” The answer from both was a resounding “Yes!”

They had a point. The money you gave that women might have been spent on drugs and she might OD, or on a rope and she might hang herself. Either action would have been a result of her free will and not to be blamed on your act of kindness. But since they would have had to deal with the resulting mess……..

So at least according to the Americans in that house on that day, your actions yesterday were typical of a compassionate conservative American and not a compassionate liberal American.

What the other 100’s of millions of Americans think on any other day remains to be determined and is probably subject to change.

Good for you Bro!
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby manolo » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:24 am

SM,

I deliberately avoided generalising on the story, to avoid the usual pea shooting match on a forum.

However. I agree with you that there is a strain of thinking on the left that too much poverty charity is a bad sign. If there are good safety nets in place, these folks think that there is not a need for poverty charity. So, there is a political context.

In my youth I don't remember ever seeing a beggar on the street. This phenomena appeared in force in the 1980s, when we had an unexpected hard right conservative government. There was high unemployment and welfare systems were being stretched. It got ugly quickly for the losers. From 1997 through 2010 the beggars disappeared again (labour government) and today they are out in force all over the country. We again have a hard right conservative government.

I also agree with you that some people (panhandlers?) will take advantage of any situation to make a few quid. The politics is hot on this issue, with conservatives labelling all beggars as panhandlers and leftists pointing to high suicide rates among sick and disabled people being chucked off welfare. It's the same old left/right argument.

One thing that concerns me a little is charity 'chuggers'. These are people working for national charities who are employed to approach people in the street and hustle for donations. It also happens with cold calling on the phone. These chuggers don't just stand or sit there (like Cherry) they solicit with a hard sell.

Alex.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Simple Minded » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:05 am

Amen. That's why I don't really care much about the whole left right labeling debate, other than it is entertaining. So many nuanced variables that the whole binary political arena just does not apply well, which is why the professional politicians will never solve anything. Plus, it sucks when one works oneself out of a job.

I'll bet it never entered your mind whether you were acting like a liberal or a conservative when you were being kind, nor did you think about the political leanings of the recipient. You were just being kind.

You are absolutely right about the "god bless you" replay. I have never not received that reply when handing over some money or a pair of gloves or some other item. Perhaps they are scamming, perhaps they feel obligated to give something in return, or perhaps they really think the giver is a representative of god when so many just walk by.

The other point I find interesting is that in both the US and the UK, the professional caretakers tell the kind people not to assist the panhandlers. Very similar to a Park Ranger telling a park visitor to not feed the bears.

One is more likely to encounter beggars in liberal dominated domains in the US. One can argue for a lifetime whether liberalism is the causes of the problem or the response to the problem. And many do.

Population density seems to be a much more predictable driver of politics than ideology, at least in the US. Makes sense to me, rural and urban are two different worlds. No wonder the residents of either agree on so little.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby manolo » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:02 pm

Simple Minded wrote:Amen. That's why I don't really care much about the whole left right labeling debate, other than it is entertaining. So many nuanced variables that the whole binary political arena just does not apply well, which is why the professional politicians will never solve anything. Plus, it sucks when one works oneself out of a job.

I'll bet it never entered your mind whether you were acting like a liberal or a conservative when you were being kind, nor did you think about the political leanings of the recipient. You were just being kind.

You are absolutely right about the "god bless you" replay. I have never not received that reply when handing over some money or a pair of gloves or some other item. Perhaps they are scamming, perhaps they feel obligated to give something in return, or perhaps they really think the giver is a representative of god when so many just walk by.

The other point I find interesting is that in both the US and the UK, the professional caretakers tell the kind people not to assist the panhandlers. Very similar to a Park Ranger telling a park visitor to not feed the bears.

One is more likely to encounter beggars in liberal dominated domains in the US. One can argue for a lifetime whether liberalism is the causes of the problem or the response to the problem. And many do.

Population density seems to be a much more predictable driver of politics than ideology, at least in the US. Makes sense to me, rural and urban are two different worlds. No wonder the residents of either agree on so little.


SM,

I can't disagree with any of that.

Your last para is worth a mention. I've spent most of my life around 'poor' people, as a teacher and as a friend. I've been poor myself.

Population density does seem to be a political driver. For centuries the poorest folk have been drawn to the cities. It is no coincidence that cities have more liberal or 'left' politics than country areas. The UK political map shows that clearly. I have noticed that it is very difficult to be poor in the country areas and a little easier to be poor in the cities. Small towns fall in between, which is where I was when I met Cherry. In a small town the wealthy and the poor are in necessary proximity, although with very little economic exchange.

Alex.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Nonc Hilaire » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:25 pm

In a small town the wealthy and the poor are in necessary proximity, although with very little economic exchange.

That is a major role of churches. Getting the haves and have-nots in the same pew every week is a big aid in bringing the poor into the middle class.
“Christ has no body now but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks among His people to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses His creation.”

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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Simple Minded » Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:55 pm

Alex,

Thankfully, the intersection between the world of ideology and the world in which people live is not greater than it is.

If more people would only preach what they themselves actually practice, rather than preach what they want the others (their real or imaginary ideological opponents) to practice, discourse would be much more civil and productive....... but probably not as entertaining nor as marketable. :P Hmmm....

It is much easier to get people whipped into a frenzy to attack boogeymen, than to solve actual problems.

We all want to be dragon slayers, few want to work in the mine digging the coal that will enable the forging of swords and spears.

What's wrong with those people? ;)
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby manolo » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:50 am

Simple Minded wrote:
It is much easier to get people whipped into a frenzy to attack boogeymen, than to solve actual problems.


SM,

Someone elsewhere imagined a world without Muslims or Democrats. An innocent enough dream?

I don't think so. It would be easy for me to wish away hard right conservatives, but then who would I argue with? I really enjoy arguing and there is always a lively argument to be had with an ideologue. :) So, although I don't agree with much that a hard right conservative has to say, there is a sense in which these folks have definitely improved my life.

Alex.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby noddy » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:15 am

a huge difference between genocide and having taxation and politics separated between different cultures that dont agree - 'a world without X' can mean very different things to different people.
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby Simple Minded » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:31 am

manolo wrote:
Simple Minded wrote:
It is much easier to get people whipped into a frenzy to attack boogeymen, than to solve actual problems.


SM,

Someone elsewhere imagined a world without Muslims or Democrats. An innocent enough dream?

I don't think so. It would be easy for me to wish away hard right conservatives, but then who would I argue with? I really enjoy arguing and there is always a lively argument to be had with an ideologue. :) So, although I don't agree with much that a hard right conservative has to say, there is a sense in which these folks have definitely improved my life.

Alex.


:lol: :lol:

The fact that you love to argue is obvious. Your nature or chosen profession?

I'd be comfortable placing a small wager that you are similar to many of my liberal friends, including my former UAW brothers (during work hours, their worst ideological enemies, were they themselves after work).

You can spend years with them, and observe their behavior and come to the conclusion they are "hard right conservatives." Then one day the subject of politics comes up and you find out they are not!

Definitions are truly selfish, personal, and regional. If they ever cease to be, there goes the fun in arguing.

I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'm betting on people acting in what they perceive as their own self interest for the foreseeable future. It makes them predictable and society stable, if not perfect. Humans with self interest that is in flux. :roll:

If we could only come up with a system where half of the population is Peter, and the other half is Paul, from noon to midnight, then from midnight to noon they/we all switch roles, it would both be "fair" and give us/them all the chance to bitch about the others 24 house a day. :P Utopia!
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Re: Street begging intimacy

Postby manolo » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:21 pm

Simple Minded wrote:
:lol: :lol:

The fact that you love to argue is obvious. Your nature or chosen profession?

I'd be comfortable placing a small wager that you are similar to many of my liberal friends, including my former UAW brothers (during work hours, their worst ideological enemies, were they themselves after work).

You can spend years with them, and observe their behavior and come to the conclusion they are "hard right conservatives." Then one day the subject of politics comes up and you find out they are not!

Definitions are truly selfish, personal, and regional. If they ever cease to be, there goes the fun in arguing.

I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'm betting on people acting in what they perceive as their own self interest for the foreseeable future. It makes them predictable and society stable, if not perfect. Humans with self interest that is in flux. :roll:

If we could only come up with a system where half of the population is Peter, and the other half is Paul, from noon to midnight, then from midnight to noon they/we all switch roles, it would both be "fair" and give us/them all the chance to bitch about the others 24 house a day. :P Utopia!


SM,

I guessed you already guessed my cv. Retired teacher, with two philosophy degrees, BA Hons and M Phil. Never finished the PhD. Also a business studies HnD, associate membership of a professional institute in the building industry and currently a company director (property management). There will be other stuff I've forgotten.

Your last para is a good one. For any good debater, a necessary discipline is to examine an opposing argument and try to improve it. In effect, to argue against oneself. Its a Popperian notion. :)

Alex.
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