Last Sunday, on a street corner in Dallas, I saw a black man who was on crutches begging in the blazing hot sun. I always give them money. I’ve heard all the stories about people begging on the street corners then getting into their Lexus to drive home but I tend to think that anyone who would do something like that—brave the weather and the hostility from most drivers—must be in need. No one else gave him anything.
When I handed him the dollar I fished out of my pursed he said, “Thank you, we all have to give back to society.” Naturally, I thought he meant that I was giving back to society by giving to him. Now, I’m not so sure that’s what he meant.
When I turned the corner I saw an enormous trash bag filled to the brim with garbage that he had picked up. Just then some people drove by and threw out trash. He hobbled over to pick up it up and put it in his bag.
I wish I had given him a twenty instead of a one. I wanted to drive back around and give him more money. My measly dollar didn’t cost me much and I could easily have given him a five or a twenty.
I wasn’t really giving back to society. I was only making myself feel better, superior. Standing on a street corner in August, picking up trash thrown out by self-indulgent drivers–THAT’S GIVING BACK.