Giving a little could change a lot

Published 11:50 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

I think one of the hardest things for people to do is rely on one another. By nature or nurture, most of us seem to view ourselves as inherently independent. We like to do things our way on our time.

Often times we seem to operate on the notion that relying on someone else is somehow indicative of weakness.

Unfortunately, I believe I have long been an unwitting subscriber to this philosophy.

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However, what I’m finding out through recent events is that the ability to rely on others is less of a weakness and — sometimes — more of an absolute necessity.

I started thinking about this fact while dining at a local restaurant. (This should come as no shock as those who know me best are well acquainted with my affinity for eating.)

Nonetheless, while sitting at the table, an individual entered and asked for money. I don’t have a blanket policy in such instances. I typically handle such occurrences on a case-by-case basis. This particular case I had dealt with on numerous occasions. He is a frequenter of the area in which the newspaper office is located and he is as familiar to the staff as a 14-hour day.

He always asks for the same amount of money. The fact that his sought-after amount is not a round number is the first clue that something is a little off. The second, and most obvious clue that something is amiss, is the overwhelming odor that emanates from his mouth.

All that adds up to a customary declination of his overtures. But this time, something hit me.

I don’t like to rely on other people. It is hard for me to do. I don’t even like to ask my friends for favors. I assume most people are, at least to a certain extent, very similar. So, what all had to take place in this guy’s life to get him to the point that he readily and willingly asks strangers for donations?

So I offered to buy him a meal and consented to give him a ride. Typically, it is not an advisable practice. But in this instance, it felt like what I was supposed to do.

And I’m certain that at some point in some fashion I will find myself in a situation that pushes me to overcome my discomfort in relying upon others long enough to ask for some form of relief. All I can hope is that when that day comes I am blessed enough to be surrounded by people willing to look beyond my shortcomings in order to lend a hand.

I guess in the end, it all goes back to that simple “Golden Rule” we heard and regurgitated regularly as children. Now, decades removed, it seems like if we could make ourselves get past all the hang-ups that plague us daily and enact that same principle. The world around us might at least seem like a much better place; even if all we did was make somebody a little less hungry for one night.