New York

Why Do We Shun Homeless People?


The other day a raggedy looking man approached me on the street and asked “Can you spare a quarter?” I’m not proud to admit that my immediate response–even before he finished that sentence–was to say “No” and rudely turn away.

But why? Surely I could have spared some pocket change, especially to someone who seemed so desperate.

Searching my soul for the possible reasons I often do this, I can only come up with rationales like:

*My mind is elsewhere at the moment and I’m thrown by the intrusion

*I think everyone’s trying to use me for something

*I thought their approach could have been wittier or more original

*I feel they’ll use the money for “bad” things like booze and drugs

*I figure they can always get it from someone else

*I don’t want to be bothered by reminders of non-fabulousness

*I’m an idiot

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