‘Sorry I haven’t got any change’ guilt

So I’m walking down the street and I see a homeless person sat in a shop doorway, I know I’m about to walk past them and I start feeling guilty and acting shifty. The inevitable happens “spare any change love” they say ( the use of the word ‘love’ directed towards any woman as common parlance is an issue for another day). I sort of mumble “I haven’t got any change, sorry” and whilst speeding up and not really looking in their direction; I then spend the rest of my walk feeling horrendously guilty. On the rare occasion I actually don’t have any change I feel pretty pleased with myself for speaking the truth.
Then I go off into “yes but you could have got some money out” land and the guilt resurfaces.

To clarify, homeless people don’t disgust or disturb me in any way – they don’t make me nervous in their existence.  I actually feel so bad about this state of affairs that I become riddled with guilt every time I pass by them. I just don’t know how to deal with the problem. I could give change to some of them yes, but then I get hit with the “but which homeless person is worthy of my change” debate and at once feel guilty for even throwing the worth of a homeless person into question. Once, though, I’m pretty sure I was conned so there is that which of course brings on heaps of disgusting feelings at having the mere thought that someone could be pretending to be in need.

Next I will think “well I hardly have enough money to cover my rent, so I can’t really afford it”. Then I think how in the relative scheme of things I am not badly off or living any kind of bad life and up pops the guilt again – this same feeling occurs when I’m asked to give to charity.

All this aside, however, we can’t go around giving money to every homeless person/charity/family in need. There are, in short, too many people in need of our help in the world and maybe this fact is what we should be dwelling on.


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