Monday, 17 January 2011

Guilt Money

I’ve cancelled my charity direct debits.

I did it anonymously online and I feel bloody awful about it.

My guilt is compounded by the fact that I went out for lunch on Saturday and spent Action for Children’s tenner on a cheese sandwich and Victoria sponge. (I know, dreadful. Is it any consolation that I spent Saturday night in with a DVD purchased from Salvation Army? No, I thought not.)

All around me are reminders that I am now trying to hoard it for myself. A man sits outside my office, propped next to the pay and display machine. I see him every morning and evening sitting with an outstretched cup and a hopeful smile.

He makes me feel dreadful. Do I pass in front of him, rushing by without making eye contact? Trying hard to seem rushed like most other city dwellers? I know he’ll be looking at me, smiling wide, perhaps sensing my discomfort.

Or should I walk on the other side? I can’t. The similarity to the Parable of the Good Samaritan is too much to stomach.

So many places in our cities are marked out in this way. Like so many others, he hovers near the same spot, the same times each day. Only the truely heartless could ignore him, and then only for so long.

So can I spend a year as a ‘truely heartless’? Even if I can justify the canceling of monthly expenditure, (which I probably can’t) what about those who just need me to ‘spare a little change?’

I shall dole out the change with genuine good cheer.  And though I am sure I will still feel like a stooge, at least in the short term I can make a token difference in someone's life. They need it more than me, and besides, I’d only blow it on Victoria sponge.

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