No judgment, none at all, or at least for the space of this post because it is a whole lot harder in the real world. By which I include the 7-11 across the street where there is usually a small crowd of panhandlers. Or I can go behind my building the other way to the CVS and the Whole Foods and see the same, but the men (and a few women) are not identical and interchangable. There is usually a particular confident and put-together man selling Street Sense; one man with a respirator and a bundle of incense; and another offering his services to paint your house. Not all are mentally ill or addicted, I'm sure, but I see the bottles and know someone's been hitting cheap bottles of vodka. Perhaps not all are homeless, but the area, though increasingly affulent, has three homeless person's shelters within walking distance. The poor and afflicted are very much with us here in Logan Circle.
So what do you do if you're not poor and not particularly afflicted? Hubby has homeless services on his resume, and I served a church here in the city, so I think we're probably ahead of the curve but I'm still troubled. The big question is about giving money. Neither Hubby nor I give money on the street; in part, I don't think it is wise to trade in money on the street. But there is a tension between thinking any money given would do no good, knowing that the problems they face cannot be addressed by fifty cents or a dollar, and feeling that the Gospel doesn't care that they may use the money unwisely (but is concerned with responding to a plea.) And there's the feeling you're being used, and that you just don't want to be bothered.
From there, the quandry just gets deeper and murkier. Feel free to comment below. J. D. at Get Rich Slowly considers this matter, and got me thinking again: Beggars on the Streets of San Francisco