Block: Begging
BlockBuster: Ask for a Hand not a Handout

A Friend and client of mine just sent me this email which caused me to think my way into this article for you. She wrote, “I was just on the subway and as it was approaching my stop a woman came on my car and announced to the train that she is struggling financially and is trying to raise her 12 year old son and that she has just recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She said she has been trying to get a job but as of yet no one has accepted her application. The train was pulling up to my stop as she finished her speech so I was able to hand her a $5 bill as I exited the train with tears in my eyes.”

The story is made even more poignant when you know that my friend also has Mulitple Sclerosis, as do I – and like all people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, we wonder what will happen to us if our money or insurance runs out.

How many of us now look at others forced to beg, borrow, and hopefully not steal, and feel panic wondering if “There but for the grace of God go I?”

So many people who are used to and proud of always taking care of themselves and never needing a handout now find themselves in precarious, embarrassing, humiliating, demoralizing situations. One couple both seriously ill and relying on one partner’s paycheck have found themselves unemployed for almost 2 years. They are one month away from losing their apartment and their health insurance. They have not yet asked me for money.

Another friend who was the primary caregiver for 3 young children suddenly found himself kicked out of the relationship and fighting to have custody of his children with a terrible decision to make – work and not see the kids or see the kids and not be able to support them. He has asked me for money.

I could relate story after story, but I’m sure you all have stories of your own.

I wrote the following back to my friend: “You are not and will never be a VICTIM.
This woman, God bless her, is a victim. How could her speech have been different? What could she have said to possibly generate a job? How could she have left that subway with people wanting to give her a hand, not a handout?
Just some questions and food for thought.”

I’m all for gratitude and reminders and giving love, support and even loans — but just remember, it’s just a few steps from Victim to Hero. What we need to do as a country is make more paths available to take those forced to flounder in victimhood and put them on the pathway to their own heroic journeys.

I would love your thoughts and comments on how this can be done.

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