OPINION

Things to consider before judging that beggar

THOUGHT: We should consider that some people's hard luck stories are frustrating and happened without their consent.
THOUGHT: We should consider that some people's hard luck stories are frustrating and happened without their consent.

As I sit here typing away on my smartphone - which, in spite of its name has had little to no effect on its owner - I'm a hop, skip and a jump from Sydney's famous Hyde Park.

Your chances of walking through Hyde Park without a beggar or someone asking you for money is slim, especially if you're dressed reasonably well.

Of course, the biggest disadvantage for beggars in Hyde Park these days is people no longer carry money on them anymore.

When a beggar asks a person for a few dollars and most people say "Sorry mate, I don't have any money on me," they're usually telling the truth.

In 2019, it seems the beggars in Hyde Park have fallen on hard times.

But I predict a very bright future for the beggars of Australia.

I've been musing that in the not-so-distant future, people begging you for money will probably whip out a portable "tap and go" machine so that you can just tap your credit card if you don't have any spare change on you.

Hey, tap and go machines are only $59 now. And if credit cards are to be replaced by an app on your smartphone, soon anyone with their phone has money on them.

What excuse are any of us - especially a millennial - going to use in the future for not having any money on them?

Do you think anyone, especially a beggar in Hyde Park, is going to believe a millennial when the millennial says "Sorry mate, I don't have my phone on me"?

Trust me, absolutely no one is ever going to buy that line.

Soon, the only smart people walking through Hyde Park will be those without smartphones.

I joke, but those who have begged me for money over the years have usually got it out of me.

I'm not sure whether that's a weakness or a strength.

I've felt regret after I've given them money. I've felt deeper regret when I haven't.

I joke, but those who have begged me for money over the years have usually got it out of me. I'm not sure whether that's a weakness or a strength. I've felt regret after I've given them money. I've felt deeper regret when I haven't.

We all know that Bible saying "the Lord loves a cheerful giver". Actually, a better translation reads "the Lord loves a laughing giver".

There's a story about a group of young men from the country who were holidaying in Sydney. As they were going about their partying in the city one night, they were approached by an elderly woman who was begging for money as they walked through Hyde Park.

As the young men poked fun at her and sermonised her about the benefits of living frugally and not blowing your money on alcohol and gambling, a young man among them who was holding the group's money opened his wallet and gave her almost all the cash they had for their holiday.

Understandably, the old and probably homeless woman, grabbed the money and ran. His friends rebuked him loudly and at length.

Finally, this seemingly good Samaritan spoke.

"I gave her almost all our money for two reasons.

"Firstly, I agree with your claims that she will probably just blow most of it on alcohol.

"But isn't that what we were going to blow it on tonight?

"And secondly, and perhaps more importantly boys, maybe now we might need to start living frugally this holidays and thus realise that some people's hard luck stories are frustrating and happened without their consent."

Did this young man do the wrong thing, or the right thing?

I don't know, but I'm fairly confident that he didn't get invited to the group's next holiday.

Perhaps you justify not helping the people you could help by telling yourself "Ah, he's a lazy bum!" or "she just blows her money on junk!". And maybe you're right.

Perhaps your useless son, daughter, sibling or friend is entirely to blame for their own predicament.

But how will they ever believe in themselves if you won't even believe in them?

It's the beggar you know personally that asks for help that has the most to lose if you say no.

Twitter: @fatherbrendanelee