Walking By

January 18, 2010

In the areas of Belfast I frequent there are quite a few beggars. I suspect this is no coincidence; I’m most in the busy areas of the city, and it makes sense that more of the poor would be in those areas. Still, it means that wherever I go in town the city’s disadvantaged are viscerally evident to me.

And every time I walk by.

It bothers me, but I have nothing to give. That’s no exaggeration, truly. I’ve got five pounds right now; that’s it until my money from the states comes through, which is in… I’m not quite sure. I’m running on a tight budget right now, and the truth is I can’t afford to give anything to the people who need it. But of course my poverty is relative, because if things really got desperate my parents, or maybe my grandparents, would be able to give me a little. Obviously the guy begging– every day– in front of Boojum doesn’t have that safety net. The people selling The Big Issue in front of the ATM at the Ulster Bank in front of the University probably don’t either.

What do I do?

When I was in Jackson, Megan told me that feeling uncomfortable about the situations you’re put in can be a huge step, but I really don’t like feeling uncomfortable. I feel like sitting down and talking with folks would just be patronizing, especially since I can’t actually give them anything concrete. “Hey, I won’t give you any money, but here’s ten minutes of my time. Isn’t that of worth to you?” I volunteer with EBM when I can, but most of the stuff I’ve done has been second tier type stuff. I’m never interacting with the needy, and fair play to EBM for that; I’m not staff, and I don’t have training.

I suspect this is just something I won’t get an answer to, and I’ll just feel like something’s wrong.

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3 Responses to “Walking By”

  1. Jessie said

    Even saying hello will help them feel like a person, which is much more than most people will give them.

    Just saying.

  2. Andrew said

    I think it should feel bad; and sometimes you can do something, and sometimes you can’t. But until the Kingdom comes…

    Did anyone mention Haiti at church?

    • christophermahlon said

      Yes, Gary emphasized it in his pastoral prayers, and highlighted the Irish-Methodist connections, my guess is so that it actually had a face rather than being a bunch of people an ocean away.

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