Throwing Away Money

21st of November

I have started a new experiement, as I do. This one is not about buying new expensive stuff as the title suggests in a click-baity way, but about being more compassionate and building empathy.

The Experiment

For about a week now, I’ve been putting 1 and 2 Euro coins into my jacket’s front pocket for easy access and I will give at least 1 Euro to every single beggar or homeless person I see.

Why?

I used to not understand the problem that lies behind being homeless. Here in Germany, everyone is entitled to a (small) basic income and a rental apartment, right? You just have to show up at the Job Center from time to time and state your claim and you’re fine, right?

While in theory that’s true, people like you and me seem to have forgotten to put ourselves into the shoes of the affected. I reckon most of them do know about the relatively easy access to this existing supporting net. But what has brought them into their situation in the first place? The lack of ability to take matters like these into their own hands, for one. The reason is not important. They just can’t manage this task and we need to understand that. I didn’t until recently.

What changed my mind?

One of the podcasts I enjoy listening to on a regular basis is called Stuff You Should Know. In October of this year, they re-released an old 2010 episode on the topic of homelessness. They explain a lot of the problem for about an hour.

And while there is support for homeless people, there’s no really helpful support. Sure, more focussed support structures could probably make everything better, but apparently we as a society don’t think this issue is important enough. Which is a shame and must change.

Until then, the least I can do is throw coins in every pouch I see. A Euro coin can go a long way.

What’s the consequence for me?

Unsurprisingly, getting a grateful look and a smile and Thank You from a stranger is a nice feeling. As my current office is located right within the city center, I pass by 2-3 homeless people on average per day. At the price of a cup of coffee, as the saying goes, it’s no noticeable damage. It also changes your perspective to give money to every homeless person you see. You start to look for them and notice them. That’s a start.

See how we have accepted homeless people just blending into the city picture
See how we have accepted homeless people just blending into the city picture

How a society treats its most vulnerable is always the measure of its humanity.

We have to start somewhere.

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