Now it may be that some of the people to whom you give money will spend it unwisely. They will not use it to update their resumes; they might not even put it toward the purchase of a better pair of shoes.
Some of the people experiencing need and want are also suffering from confusion. This confusion is often chemical. Sometimes the chemicals are ingested; sometimes they are produced naturally by the brain. Naturally, it would be better if they sought help. It would be better if you sought help sometimes, too, and you have not always done so.
Within the context of need and want, we owe people the dignity of their own confusion. We are not performing triage here, nor are we sitting on a golden throne. We are doing what we can. We are aware that it is not enough, and still we are doing it. That's the Untied Way.
Gratitude may not be apparent at all, or it may be embarrassing and overly effusive. It would be unwise to have an opinion about that. When a person is in a doorway, the concept of "appropriate" may be a little fuzzy.
You can be sure the money has gone to someone who needs it. You can be sure that your client will spend 100 percent of the donation on self-identified need areas. You can use the experience to meditate on the nature of charity, or the fragility of personal narrative, or anything else - it's a little koan-in-a-box, just for this holiday season.
It's the holiday season, a time of warmth and joy for many of us - but not all. If you don't already make annual donations to your favourite charities, this year is a great time to begin - it doesn't have to be much, because truly every little bit can help. If you don't know where to start, here are a few suggestions.
Please post more in the comments.
4. Animals. In the UK, consider supporting your local city farm. Our local is the Vauxhall City Farm, which is a delight to visit and supports the local community, particularly the disadvantaged and disabled. Or consider donating to an animal charity such as the RSPCA or the Humane Society.
5. Jon Carroll's Untied Way. Go to an ATM. Take out money - not a token amount, but enough that it means something to you. Then walk around your city. Every time someone asks you for money, give them a £20 note or a $20 bill, (or whatever it is, depending on where you are). Do this until you're out of money. I'll end by quoting Caroll himself: