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with reference to: quote Miranda “I have have spent some time working with homeless people. Homeless organisations advocate NOT giving to homeless people because it enables them to continue with their life on the streets – it is better to encourage them to come in to shelters and engage with services so that they can be helped back on their feet more permanently. I accepted this for years but now I find that although it makes sense, it is not the most compassionate thing to do for that person, at that time. It is very easy to judge the person and the situation rather than just showing some simple compassion (although it may, and actually usually will, be spent on drugs or alcohol). Any thoughts on this?”

Miranda this is a classic debate. I goes round and round. On the one hand the argument is “Try to fix the cause not the symptom” but the problem is with much of the suffering we experience around us in life, the cause is way deeper and most often historical ( even karmic) than we can appreciate even by looking deeply into it. Its a bit like the argument that says, when you send food to starving people you don’t stop people starving, you only get an increase in the population of starving people. But the problem with these big picture arguments is that they aren’t acknowledging the simple quality of human kindness that arises spontaneously with the desire to ease the pain of one who we see suffering right now in the moment.
In a way one could argue that we will never see the end to homelessness any more than we can expect people to stop trying to live and raise their families in areas that barely support life. It is in human nature to push on regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in, or how supported or otherwise our life may be. And so to see suffering and to be moved to ‘ease the pain of those in front of us” still remains a compassionate act of kindness. If we investigate the mind as it makes the reflection upon viewing a homeless drunk with the reflection ” Poor man, I shall give to Shelter or crisis this evening when I get home.” there is surely a dryness in us in this moment that didn’t open the heart enough in the moment to reach out to the one who life has put us in front of in that very moment. Besides, if we are worried about the fact that this person may spend what we give on booze or drugs, how about stepping into the Tesco that he is probably sitting outside, and buy him a sandwich and a cup of hot coffee?

Thanks everyone for the great feedback this week.