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Saturday, 20 August 2011


Passing through Union Station, I noticed a person sitting on the floor asking for money in the same place that a busker, a street performer, usually is. This got me thinking.

My immediate thought was indignation; a sort of perturbed feeling that this person was just sitting there, asking for money, instead of earning it in some way. I know that the city of Toronto actually takes street performers very seriously, even asking them to get licensed and then, after an audition, actually placing them where their talents will be most appreciated. For example, since Union Station is a busy place, those who have the better auditions usually end up playing there, whereas someone with less skill might play at a less popular area. Of course, not everyone can or does follow these rules, and sometimes people just put down a hat and pick up a guitar.

Nevertheless, my thoughts returned to the guy sitting on the floor. Who was I to make a judgement over this person? Maybe this fellow made a couple of wrong decisions or, worse yet, maybe he didn't. Maybe bad things happened to him, and he fell through the cracks of the system and our cynicism down to street level. Where was compassion for your fellow man? Where was the paying-it-forward attitude? What happened to the hospitality of old that would allow perfect strangers access to room, food, and shelter upon arriving on someone's door.

Sadly, I acknowledge this change in the world, but unfortunately, I acknowledge the necessity of such a change. I was raised with good old-fashioned ideas of chivalry, hospitality, and general gentlemanliness, but I was also raised to be observant, and to value hard work and effort. The world is a scary place, and sometimes, a lazy one. I never know whether the people sitting on the street are scamming me, those who have money but are looking for more out of boredom (there have been reported cases), or if this guy will just use my money to feed his problems. Now, I'm saying that this fellow was lazy, but I am saying that when it comes to ideas of handouts, I take on a very utilitarian perspective. Yes, I may offer you a bed for the night if you're down on your luck, but I will not buy you food every day if you are doing nothing to show your appreciation. And that's the thing: people who sit on the street are just asking for money. They are not trying to earn it, they are just basically saying, "Hey, give me money." Well, that tactic didn't work on the bullies in grade school, that tactic doesn't work on my friends, and that tactic doesn't work on people sitting on the street.

Forgive me if I sound harsh, but I think everyone has talents, and that everyone has something to offer this world. I pity the world for the state it is in, and I feel remorse for the guy who has had said sad world bring him to this level of depravity, but people need to acknowledge that there is always hope; there is always something they can do to better themselves, and the world around them.

And those are my thoughts concerning handouts, thanks for reading. I apologize if I offended anyone.

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