If all the wealth in the world was divided equally, everyone would get ~$70000. Now most of that wealth isn’t sitting in stacks of cash in someone’s closet (although I do suspect some seedier characters use that method) but tied up in physical assets. I have always thought that there is a lot of money out there that could be better allocated.
I gave some money to a panhandler one day. He said he needed money to get something to eat. Later, I saw him walking down the street carrying some beer. I don’t think I have given money to any other panhandler since. Wait—
That’s wrong. There was one guy who always had a funny sign that read: Ninjas took my sister. Need money for Kung Fu lessons. After seeing it for several months, I joked with him that he needed to change his sign. The next time I saw him he had. So, I had to give him something, right?
Another time, someone asked me for money, and when I offered the apple I had in my backpack, he outright refused, “I don’t want that.” Now, when asked, I always say, “Sorry” in the politest way I can.
One day, quite a few years ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store, and the woman in front of me did not have enough money to pay for all her groceries. As she told the teller to take of the tomatoes and another item, I said without thinking, “I’ll pay for those.” The teller rung up the groceries, and I handed her the balance. I can’t remember what else was said, I assume she thanked me, and I said something along the lines of, don’t worry about it, or my pleasure.
Opportunities like that don’t happen often, but I think that it is important to take advantage of them if you are able to. I don’t have much, but there are people with less, and even a small gesture is a step in the right direction. Even a smile and a kind word can go a long way.
Taking care of yourself first is not selfish. Only taking care of yourself when you are able to do otherwise, is.
Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.