A hand up not a handout

“It is better to give than to receive.”

That’s a quote from the Bible.  Well, I try to be a net contributor, rather than a net taker.  But now I have a moral dilemma.

Next to my local supermarket is the pitch of a 50/50  (German equivalent of the Big Issue) seller.  She’s nice, likeable, not aggressive, not drunk “on duty,” unlike some of the sellers here in Germany.  All positive so far.  Most of the time I am not interested in reading the magazine.  (My German is not fluent enough.)  However, in the last two years that I have known her, I have often:

  • Given her €1 for the privilege of stroking her dog, giving it a belly rub
  • Bought her a coffee and doughnut

All pretty benign so far.  However, the expression, “today’s favours become tomorrow’s demands,” comes to mind.  Being a 50/50 seller is meant to be about trade, not aid.  But in the last few months I have been crossing the road to avoid the seller.


The favours of treating her to coffee and doughnut, a listening ear as she tells me her problems, have escalated.  Can I give her some extra money, as it’s month end, and she has her rent to pay, etc.  It’s turned into begging.

Should I just say no?  Or is it easier to avoid her?

Today I saw her.  I decided to buy a magazine, something to read while having my brunch in the cafe.  A short, curt conversation while I paid for the magazine.

While it it is better to give than to receive, we are stewards of the resources God gives us.  I therefore will not just hand money out willy-nilly.

Any thoughts, folks?

Have a giving day, won’t you!



2 thoughts on “A hand up not a handout

  1. A dilemma indeed. I often give to a guy in the subway on the way to the office. I did try talking to him, but he does not seem to speak either german or english. Maybe that is best. We cannot help all, but we can sometimes make a difference to one or two.

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