The other day when I was in Atlanta, I was approached by a panhandler and as always, I paused for thought.
These are moments when we get to consider what we believe, and how we wish to apply it in our lives.
Some people approach the situation from the standpoint of personal responsibility – as in the panhandler is responsible for their own situation, and should be doing something to change it.
But in that moment of potential exchange, there are really two things happening. There is the panhandler’s personal responsibility, and there is my personal responsibility.
The panhandler has clearly made the choice already first to ask for money, and secondly how to ask for money. My personal responsibility is to either give or not give. The rest of my rationale will really do nothing more than support whatever decision I choose to make.
There is no right answer. Some will drop money in the person’s hand. Others will say they’re already giving, but in a different form. They may argue that giving to their spiritual Centre helps create a world that works for everyone so that eventually no individual mind will need to ask for money.
Others argue they are already giving to those in need through paying their taxes. Still others choose not to give to a panhandler because they believe their money might go to support a drug or alcohol habit.
And then there’s the rationale around how they were asked. Was there politeness in the exchange, was there any element of hope, or of gratitude, or maybe even of grace?
But in many ways each of these are really judgments – our judgments about where someone should be on their path, rather than where we are on our own.
These are opportunities to express who we are. We give, we don’t give. We smile, we don’t smile. We are respectful, we are disrespectful.
Ernest Holmes once wrote that we are spiritual broadcasting stations and that everything we think about is connected and communicated through that One Mind.
No matter what our choice is, we are communicating something to that broader Mind, and we are sending out a signal to the universe in some small way as to how we wish things to be.
Consider this as a possibility: take an action, and see how you feel afterwards. If there is a lightness that comes to you – then we are all greater for it. If you feel left in darkness, it’s never too late to reconsider.
Our consciousness is what creates the panhandler – not just our individual consciousness, but our collective one.
Once we believe that there is no need, there will be no more in our path. And our collective mind will have risen to a greater place.
Now pass the hat.