The Samaritan’s Dilemma, Part 1

Okay, so I’m 60 pages into a new book called The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor? by Deborah Stone.

You know the drill.  You pull up to a stoplight, and there’s a panhandler holding up a cardboard sign, saying something along the lines of “Will Work for Food” or “Hungry.  Lost job.”  You do the neck swivel, so you won’t have to see them.  You feel uncomfortable, because what you’re really thinking is, “Why can’t the guy get a job?”  or “What’s my five bucks really going to do for him?”  Really, you’d be aiding in his ongoing demise.

So, a short summary: you’re assuming he feels entitled and that you will only be exacerbating the problem.

I don’t know about you, but honestly, I’ve thought all the above things.  And I still feel like I passed up Jesus on the street.

Deborah Stone, the author of Samaritan’s Dilemma, relates a story included in the 9/11 obituary document, concerning a kind man by the name of David Suarez.

“He routinely gave to beggars….Mr. Suarez asked one of the beggars, who was in a wheelchair, ‘What would it take to make you happy?’

“The man said, ‘Give me $20.’

“Mr. Suarez gave him $20.

“The beggar got up, folded up his wheelchair, and walked off.

“Mr. Suarez was not angry.  The episode did not make him jaded….By his thinking, he would rather lose $20 here and there to an impostor than risk spurning someone who really needed his help.”

Plus, if you think about it, the Good Samaritan story didn’t include any detailed instructions like: “Only give if the guy isn’t a flake” or “Size the guy up and see if he really needs help.”  I think we’re supposed to help wherever we can.

Just food for thought.  More later, after I finish the book.

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