Homelessness: You can not give something to all beggars.
Good pleadings also go around the corner. I want to start with the corner Breiter Weg / Ernst-Reuter-Allee, in the city center of my hometown Magdeburg, next to the entrance to McDonald's. Often there sits some person who has a hat in front of him and looks forward to those people who will buy a six-pack pressed chicken something for 3,59 euros. When I was small, so small that I walked across the street at eye level of those sitting, I once stood at that corner and asked my mother why nobody threw money in the hat and why we do not. She replied: One can not give anything to all beggars.
It was the same tone in which she announced that you do not eat earthworms. A parental dogma. It coined my childlike convolutions of the brain, so I followed him for a long time: when I read the subway advertising in a concentrated way to overlook the restrained hand in front of me; when I stormed into business not to notice the hat on the ground; if I took a sip to avoid answering the man next to my table.
Man. Can. Not. Allen. Beggars. Something. Give.
It took many years and street corners to finally ask myself: Can not you? I imagined what my young self would say if I saw it staring at my cell phone 20 years later as I passed the man with a sign in front of him saying, "I need help.
For a few months now, I've been trying to do the opposite: I force my wallet out of my backpack, no matter how many baker's bags it's buried. It works mostly, not always. In the week before this article was created, I have counted. Twice I had no change. Once I was too tired and could not get up. But otherwise I stayed true to my purpose. I can still say: I am still alive, I do not eat from the barrel; I did not have to move in again with my parents. I gave a total of 3.80 euros to nine people a week - and thus just waived a little more than a six-pack of McNuggets.
None of the interrogators thanked him overly. Once I was almost indignant because of the lack of enthusiasm. Then it occurred to me that I too because of 50 cents have never jumped for joy in the circle.
I confess: actually giving something to everyone would exceed my salary. How many people are asking for money on the streets of Berlin where I live can not be pinpointed. In 2016, 52,000 people lived on the streets, according to an estimate by the Federal Association for Homelessness in Germany. There are thousands in Berlin alone. In addition, there are all those who have a roof over their heads, but not enough money. I alone can not change that much.
But there is something lazy about most of these all-arguments (we can not eat all / not all just eat soy / not all stop having kids). They blow something up to the absurd, in order to nip it in the bud.
"To give something to everyone would exceed my salary." © Nikita Teryoshin for TIME
At least not all homeless people in Berlin have stood up and held out their hand. At the subway station near my apartment sits the same man for months, maybe years, the same man. The only thing that changes about him is the number of jackets he wears, depending on the season. He is around 50, dark complexion, gray beard. He always holds his hand in front of him, bent as if trying to catch some water.
When I passed by him carelessly earlier, my head gathered arguments as to why that was perfectly okay - though it took energy to convulsively pretend that this human did not exist at my feet. But the right brain fired my step: No one has to live on the street! We live in a welfare state! The left brain added: This person is the victim of an unjust system! If you give him alms, you are feeding this system! There is no real giving in the wrong! The result: The man did not get a cent. And on the track came the bad conscience.
Since I decided to give something to everyone, I have not become poor. But I start to see people I used to ignore convulsively.
Since I decided not to give something to everyone, but to give something to everyone, I have been spared such bad feelings. Giving has become an act of the wrist - a matter of course.
Of the people who reproach me for doing so only to feel better, perhaps even superior, I will not let myself be confused. It's the same people who bargain for the price of a homeless magazine. Also, yes, damn, I feel good too! And that's why I'm continuing.