We live in a world with increasing competition for resources. It’s sad that we’ve been driven to such a strong culture of distrust and unkindness toward “other people.” I recently read a rather disturbing post on Facebook which read as follows:
Stupid drunk bum, made the mistake of asking me for money in a dark parking lot tonight… he was in between my car and another car…. popped up out of nowhere. I pushed his sorry ass to the pavement. scared me pretty bad.. he got up n ran away. be careful girls!!
The post uses prejudicial and hostile words (which I’ve bolded) to describe the man, when the only discernible offense committed was asking for money and popping up out of nowhere in the dark. The replies that followed were full of praise and kudos. One particular reply stood out for me:
You are my BAS ASS HERO, [Name]! ‘SECURE’ Queen! How dare that idiot think it was ok to approach you like that!
Yes, indeed. How dare he. How dare a person ask for help in this country. If the man was hostile or threatening or demanding during the exchange, I could understand…but no such evidence of that was given and I’m not going to assume that he was.
So now I pose a couple of questions to anyone reading this:
1. If a strange looking man with dirty clothes came up to you and asked you for money, what would be your first assessment of him?
A) He’s a drunk and homeless bum.
B) He’s possibly a drunk and homeless bum.
C) He may be drunk or homeless, but he’s not necessarily a bum.
D) He’s a bum, but he may not necessarily be drunk or homeless.
E) He’s a bum just trying to leech money off me.
F) He’s a person asking for help.
2. After your initial assessment, what would you do?
A) Ignore him and walk away.
B) Tell him to leave you alone.
C) Tell him you don’t have any cash or change on you (even if you do).
D) Give him spare change.
E) Ask him why he needs the money (even if you’re pressed for time) and be willing to have a normal conversation with him.
Now repeat the previous two questions for a stranger who happened to be a woman. What if it was a child? Really think about the questions and be as honest as possible with yourself. Now try to ask yourself why you answered the way you did.