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I gave up on beggars

I used to try to support beggars to have a better life (long term)

Part of my reason for not giving money to beggars was disingenuous because, I didn't tell to others that I'm a bit "stingy" with my money (my girlfriend will attest to this). But I really did sincerely believe, when I explained the reason for my "beggar policy" to others, that I didn't want to support them in continuing in the lifestyle that had them rely on begging as a way of "making a living." I believed that, even though there would be exceptions, if everyone refused to give to beggars, they would somehow find the resourcefulness in themselves to find a new lifestyle that involved giving benefit for benefit.

I also tried to support them in other ways

I would not ignore them otherwise, as many non-givers do. I would connect with them, soul-to-soul, with my eyes as I passed by. Sometimes I would pause to be with them more, although this seemed to encourage them to think they had a chance to get money from me, which they didn't.

I gave up trying to support them; now I give them a little money and a smile

Medellin supports a lot of street beggars. When walking out on the street I'm am likely to encounter one every five to ten minutes. When I go out, I try to ensure I have some loose coins in my pocket (coins here range in value from about $0.01 to $0.22 USD currently). Whenever I see that I am going to pass by a beggar, I'll take one more more coins from my pocket to give to them with a smile.

Why did I change my policy after 78 years of being a "tightwad"?

Two reasons.

First, I became a bit annoyed here in Medellin with the loose change that I would accumulate that seemed too much of a hassle to try to remember to use sometimes to help pay for things. And it didn't quite feel right to "throw it away." I could imagine it would give me pleasure to give it to someone who might be happy to have it.

Second, I got clear about the futility of my long-range commitment to beggars that was unlikely to have any effect, especially because they were not seeing my "not giving to them" as an expression of my support for them to have a "better lifestyle." However, beggars are committed to their short-range well-being by asking me for money. It started to make more sense to me to just give them a bit of pleasure now, even if it was probably at the expense of their longer-term benefit.

Staying out of their business

In retrospect I can see that, to some extent, I was acting as if it was my business to support beggars in having a better life (long term) by not giving them money. But they were not asking for my assistance in doing that. I was getting in their business and not staying in my own. Since I've now found a fun way to get rid of my coins and it also seems to give the beggars some short term pleasure and benefit, it's a better fit for all of us.

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