Friday, 20 February 2009

Guest Blog: Turning the other cheek or a blind eye?

Next time you are asked by a beggar for the change in your pocket would you give it to them? I ask ‘next time’ because it’s a regular occurrence in our city centres and poses a moral dilemma - if you hand over your money are you actually helping someone or potentially perpetuating a dependency problem? Perhaps a donation to a recognised charity or an event like Comic Relief would be your preferred choice?

There is no doubt that in this current economic climate our purses are held tighter than ever before, and disposable incomes are proportionately less than they have been in recent years. But the knock-on effect is not just that there’s less change in our pockets to share with a stranger on a street corner but many of the charities who depend upon public donations and government funding are also struggling to survive.

Where does social responsibility for the homeless and those forced to beg lie? I know that no single political party or government is responsible for the continued existence of homelessness or begging on our streets but I do believe that there is a shared responsibility to take steps to eradicate it – between politicians and citizens. A truly joint venture.

I guess the dilemma is that none of us can single-handedly change the problems that have been endemic in society for centuries, but if as individuals we don’t try to make even a small difference how will we ever build a better world? I know that my spare change won’t make a huge difference, and that my vote alone won’t determine the outcome of the next election, but to do nothing and abdicate responsibility seems far worse.

At a time when we are embroiled in debate about bank bonuses that amount to millions of pounds we should question ourselves and our political representatives about what actions we are taking to help those struggling to exist on the edges of our society, for whom a few pounds, a hot meal and a safe place to sleep could be life changing. Whatever answer is given ask this next question – what more can we do?

Guest Author: PJ


treehugger,  20 February 2009 at 10:12  

This is a very succinct insight into the sort of issues that, if we all stopped to address them for five minutes in a day, could be dealt with far better.

There are people who have done little or nothing to contribute to the economic problems the country faces, and yet will now suffer the most as money previously given to the charitable sector is now withdrawn.

As you say PJ, there is always more we can and should be doing. I guess it's about whether or not, in a time when we have less, we can open our minds enough and that of our political representatives) to understand that to NOT offer help to those who need will damage society far more than an economic downturn.

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