Compassion fail

Sadly, there are some beggars on the streets of Palmerston North. They hang out on one particular shopping street, and according to the retailers there, they are driving away trade, and as a result, some retailers will go to the wall. Of course, the huge expansion of the town’s largest, and virtually only, revolting indoor mega-mall has nothing to do with the foot traffic disappearing from the other shopping streets in town. No, let’s blame the beggars as quick as we can.

The street retailers have a couple of suggestions. The beggars should be moved on, and the public should be educated to stop giving them money. And the Mayor has leapt onto the bandwagon.

Mayor Jono Naylor said the issue had to be seen in the context of just nine individuals making life uncomfortable for a community of 80,000.

“There is no doubt something needs to be done, but I don’t think a bylaw is the answer.”

He said his previous experience as a busker had taught him one thing.

“We never stood anywhere where there was no money coming in.

“Some people feel they want to give money to individuals, and frankly, although it might be heart-warming at the time, it is not that useful.”

How about that compassion then?

Yes, it is unpleasant being hassled by beggars, but really, it’s no more unpleasant than running the gauntlet of raffle-ticket sellers outside the supermarket on Saturday mornings. It’s just that one group is socially sanctioned, and the other is not.

If the retailers and the mayor want to find a solution to the problem of shoppers finding beggars unpleasant, perhaps they might like to fund an education campaign to help shoppers understand that most beggars are harmless. The Mayor might even like to find a little money in the city budget for the social agencies that work with people who are down and out. But of course, that would take a lot more work and effort than a bit of sweeping and moving along.

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9 comments on “Compassion fail

  1. Mindy says:

    Yes, gods forbid that anyone try to find these people some support or food or somewhere to be safe.

  2. LadyNews says:

    Ugh, when I read this it reminded me of every other article that has come out around the time of a big sporting event (Olympics, etc) about the city trying to “clean up” and move the homeless people away- sweep them under the rug, not actually discuss the issue and try to do some good or anything silly like that. And so when I read this I thought “hooray, we’re just like everywhere else!” in a mightily cynical and sad way.

  3. azlemed says:

    it was just typical Jono liking the sound of his own voice bs that I read lol… there is no where for beggars to go now for sleeping as they closed Shepards rest 3 years ago. I am more embarrassed by peoples attitudes towards those in this situation than by the people begging.

  4. Deborah says:

    There was a very compassionate editorial in the print edition of the paper, pointing out that homelessness was a big problem and urging that more attention, and funding, be given to the social agencies that can help the people who are begging. It’s not on-line, but if it pops up on Stuff, I’ll add a link to it.

  5. donnasoowho says:

    I hate the (people collecting for charities) who stand there rattling their tins to get your attention! Drives me mad. I also find those ‘hi there, that’s a cute baby you’ve got there, could I have a moment t of your time to talk to you about ….’ equally annoying. I also hate the fact that I feel guilty when I get a snooty look from a collector for not giving some ‘worthwhile’ charity $2 even though we donate some actual proper money to several charities of our choosing (and not because I feel ‘guilted’ into it in a public place) every year.

  6. Carol says:

    +1, Donna.
    I got a guilt trip today from a young man in Cuba St trying to sign me up to greenpeace – his parting shot was ‘don’t you care about the environment’?

    Gah.

  7. Fey Hag says:

    There is an air of spite & oppression in so much of our once caring Country.
    It seems the more people have, the less they want others to have.
    I once thought it was just a lack of interest in others; but the worse it gets the more I see the indifference & the rationalizing of that indifference.
    Being able to see nothing wrong with taxing the replacement for Mother’s milk tells me the country has lost its basic humanity.
    If you are indifferent to the plight of babies & children I guess beggars are easy to kick out of the way.
    As long as there are people like you willing to point it out I will not give up all hope.

  8. che tibby says:

    +1 donna. Wellington is frequently crawling with various charities.

    “oh… you won’t support Greenpeace?” PITA.

    although… i did start asking ‘have you got a dollar’ man, “Dude, have YOU got a dollar?”

  9. Carol says:

    Having thought some more about this .. mostly, charities and the people who work for them, are admirable and I’m reluctant to be criticising. I have myself collected for Amnesty International outside various wellington supermarkets in their August fundraising drive. I hasten to add, I would never rattle a tin or even approach people, I just sit quietly and assume that if they are interested they will donate. People tend to be quite sympathetic towards AI.
    It’s more, as Donna says, the idea of being shamed into it in a public place. Come to think of it, we had a young man from Greenpeace come to the door a while ago, and he was extraordinarily pushy and insistent. I seem to recall I offered a one-off donation and he turned it down and said that they really prefer people to commit to a monthly donation. I said, take it or leave it.

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