Charity -- A dilemma

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by jwardl, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. jwardl

    jwardl Registered User

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    Had an interesting dilemma last night at lodge: a stranger walked up and told a group of us of that he was new to the area, and of his current misfortune -- he had a sick child who needed medicine, and was looking for any help he could get. He wasn't looking only for a handout, but expressed a willingness to WORK for anything he could get.

    In any event, most of us just stood there, including me. I truly had no cash, but that's not the point. One asked if he had ID, to which he said no. In the end, one of us was big enough to take a risk and handed him a $20, after which the man quickly disappeared.

    What still haunts me, however, is that with all the scams out there, my FIRST and overriding thought was not for this man's welfare, but wondering if he was trying to play on our sympathies. Can't begin to describe the number of times strangers have attempted to con me personally; to this day, it's rare that I can visit a gas station without running into someone whose car conveniently ran out of gas there and desperately needs to get somewhere. As men who are taught the lessons of brotherly love, the equality of man, and charity along the way, however, what SHOULD we do when faced with a situation such as this? I personally don't want to send away one who is truly in need without having contributed to his relief if able, but have to consider the potential waste of giving to a scammer -- knowing that my cash not only could have gone to help someone who had a legitimate need, but only reinforces the scammer's fortitude to continue using his fellow man.

    In THIS instance, I can't help but think that the impression of masonry we gave this man was not a good one.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2010
  2. Spring TX MM

    Spring TX MM Premium Member

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    Well since I was there last night. I think that it was great that a Brother contributed to him but I feel same things that you do about being conned. I too have many stories of being approached at gas stations. One time I was approached by a man who told me a sob story about his family and him being in need. He was suppressed when I told him that he dad told me the same story about 7 months prior. We all have to make our own decisions at the times we are presented with instances like this one. As Brothers we have to decide whether or not the Brother is worthy of being helped. Did his own bad decisions lead him into the misfortunes he is facing or was it through no fault of his own? Has he made every effort to change his economic situation? I don't mind giving to help others when I can Mason or not but I am leery because of all of the scammers out there. Good topic Brother and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Kyle
     
  3. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    ask him what his child's name is, how old, and birthdate. if he can rattle them off quickly, then go for it. if not, well, you know.
     
  4. jwardl

    jwardl Registered User

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    Hmmm... interesting.
     
  5. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    Eh, it's a fair trial. I figure if they get me at that point then they deserve it. If they are faking then they a) won't get me twice and b) it won't help them more than it will hurt me
     
  6. swole

    swole Registered User

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    Firing from the hip situations are the toughest. Although we are taught not to judge others, in this situation, i wouldn't be able to help but do just that. How was he dressed, his manner of speech, where is the child? A mother rarely strays from her child or abandons in such a manner where a father would have to beg. Just things to think about. It sounds like you're judging yourself too harshly. We all have responsibilities, and that of a father would be to protect and father his children. It sounds like that particular situation is a bit hard to believe. Either way it was something good done for someone else even though it may have been a lie or he may have used the money for something else. Noticing that you were Mason's may have been the reason why he approached in the first place. I don't think that if anyone of you would have not given him money, that he would think any less of a Mason. I believe the craft speaks for itself. I believe that IF his train of thought was that if you do not help him with money, you were not good in nature, then he himself has his priorities as a father and man twisted. I myself as a man give when I can, and sometimes when I can't. But before I take food out of my mouth or my children's mouth, I asses my priorities as a man, father, and husband.
     
  7. Papatom

    Papatom Premium Member Premium Member

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    If truly in need, the person would not mind for you to call someone in law enforcement for help. I have done that before, of course he left quickly.
     
  8. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    People rarely go begging on the street as a deliberate lifestyle choice, so it seems probable that the guy was in some sort of need, although quite likely not exactly the need he described. Offering to work is probably a safe bet for a con-man, especially at night when even those who actually are employers with jobs on offer will probably not be hiring.

    However, the question is whether handing out cash on the street is an effective way of delivering whatever help he actually needs. In general, I think not, unless perhaps you actually do have to hand some sort of immediate work for him to do in return. For those in genuine difficulty, there are various charities and care organisations set up to assist, and most of us donate to such organisations as our means allow. Directing the supplicant to the nearest source of organised assistance seems a more reliable way of ensuring that his actual needs are addressed - and a cop is likely to know where to send him even if you don't, so calling a cop is a good idea. I agree with Papatom, if he is genuinely seeking help then he'll wait for the cop to advise him where to go, but if he's a con-man then he'll run.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Registered User

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    What sort of help is a law enforcement officer going to give? If I were genuinely in need and someone I asked for help told me he was calling the cops, I'd get out of there, too. Distrust goes both ways, and I personally would assume anyone calling the cops into a situation was out to get me in trouble, whether I had done anything wrong or not.
     
  10. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    i agree with this.
     
  11. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    I have a Texas "vanity" plate that says "Mason" along with the Square & Compass decals on my taillights. My car recently overheated on Barry & 820 in Fort Worth, and I barely made it into a gas station before the engine fully seized on me. While I was standing there with the hood up, on my phone calling a wrecker, I was approached by a woman asking if she could help me. I told her no thanks, that I had it under control and a wrecker would soon be there for my vehicle and me. She then asked me if I could spare a few dollars to help her out with gas as she didn't have any money to get to work. I was a little shocked at the audacity of asking someone with a clearly broken down vehicle for money, but I figure she saw the markings on my car and figured I'd be an easy mark. Turns out she was right.

    It was just after 7:30am, usual commuting hours, and so I figured that maybe she was a legitimate charity case and simply ran out of her gas on her way to work. After all, I was on my way to work myself. All I had in my wallet was a $1 bill, and I gave her that telling her I'm sorry I couldn't give a few dollars more, but I don't usually carry cash with me, which is true. She scowled at the small amount, but took it anyway, and promptly walked into the gas station and put it into an 8-liner gambling machine. All in full view of me from my car. I was stunned, but chalked it up to a lesson in how to be more particular with charitable actions. After that I called my wife to come pick me up since I couldn't ride with the wrecker due to company rules. Amazingly, this woman had the audacity to come up to my wife's truck when I got into it and ask my wife for a few dollars using the same gas/work story. My wife told her no, that we had our own problems to deal with, as I had just told her what the lady did with the $1 I gave to her earlier.

    I reconcile this event by realizing, that even in as destitute a circumstance as I there found myself, I still gave this woman the only dollar I had in my wallet, believing her to be in legitimate need of charity. Even though I afterwards discovered her to be a total scam artist, I can proudly stand before the G.A.O.T.U. with a clean soul and with honor as a Mason knowing I did what was required of me when presented with what I believed to be a real need within L.O.M.C.T.. My recommendation to others, is to trust but verify, and I plan to take my own advice in the future when it comes to addressing a request for charity from a stranger.

    -Ashton
     
  12. Mike Martin

    Mike Martin Eternal Apprentice Premium Member

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    I work in London (England) and I have a general rule when approached by the homeless for alms and that is I will give what I have in my pocket if I can afford to do so.

    I try never, ever, to forget that: there, but for the grace of God, go I

    Mike
     
  13. Ben Rodriguez

    Ben Rodriguez Registered User

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    I cannot recall when was the last time I gave money away to strangers or homeless. I do remember donating blood regularly, donating canned goods and lots and lots of clothes in great condition to a church in town. I think that makes me feel accomplished, as if I did my bit.
     
  14. Nate Riley

    Nate Riley Premium Member

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    I try to go on the "gut feeling" and the look in the other mans (or woman's) eyes. But I will say this, I generally lean toward giving them a little something. I made this decision a while back (many years back), when after turning a man down, I had this weird feeling in my gut and kept thinking the rest of the day and night. Christians reading this will likely reconize this as the Holy Spirit dealing with me. My giving is about me, not about the other guy. If he tells a lie, that's his problem.

    I give quite often to the guys at the intersections. My cousin who is a pastor and my golf partner, used to say "don't you know he is just going to buy a beer with that money". To which I responded "I can relate, there are times when I really needed a beer, myself". One time in particular we were going to a course and passed a guy standing a couple of lanes over with a sign that has become more popular these days that says "Your dang right I want a beer". I had to flip around two or three underpasses to get back to him. My cousin couldn't believe it and protested the whole time (a few minutes at least). I told this is the first person I have given to that I had no doubt they were being honest.
     

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