First of all, this node is not about some bearded guy in a white toga walking around Nazareth paying poor people money so he can jerk off in their faces. And perhaps my radical ideas about financing bums have already occured to others, but this has plagued me recently.

In Dublin, there is a lot of bums. They are all harmless and quite content to sit on the street corner knocking back cans of 12% Special Brew. Occasionally they will come out with a rant about the Merchant Navy or pull out their willies and try to aim a piss at you like some type of urine light sabre. But for the most part they are good people and I am happy to give them money, buy them a cup of tea or have a chat. At Christmas time I always received stacks of booze from whatever Irish dot com I was working for at the time, more than I could drink, so I would give it to the local down & outs on Georges Street, possibly worsening their alcohol addiction at the same time but at least they would be having a bit of a laugh and getting pissed on something other than meths or cooking sherry.

You get the picture. I have time for bums, but I'm no fucking Mother Teresa or Bob Geldof by any strech of the imagination

I live in London now and the bum population here is insane compared to Dublin. I work on Park Lane which is quite a swanky part of town. Lots of investment agencies and luxury hotels yet there are stacks of bums around. I have to walk through a subway tunnel under Park Lane to get to my place of work and there is usually 4 or 5 bums camped down there begging for money. There is an alcoholic couple, a guy with a guitar who sounds better than Bob Dylan and a guy who looks like a caterpillar. These are the regulars and I give them change whenever I have it. Today however, a new guy moved in on the patch and I was out of change by the time I got to him in the tunnel. As I passed him, he put his hand out in anticipation of some free money. I apologised, explaining I was out of change and I would sort him out later if he was still around.

He then got really pissed off because he knew that I'd shelled out to the other guys up the tunnel.

I apologised again then went on my way. As I neared my office, I looked around and made a mental note of all the bums in the area. Then I started thinking about my bum selection process.

How does one decide which bum to give money to?

1. The most desperate looking?
2. The most musically talented?
3. Best aim with a piss weapon?

How would Jesus Christ do it if he were alive today? Would he really stop and give money to every single bum he saw AND heal them at the same time?

Talk about a logistical nightmare.

So I thought to myself: Should I feel guilty about every bum that I pass on the street?

Should I do that awkward "pretend not to see them" thing that I sometimes do?

Should I drop everything and become a professional helper of the homeless?

Simple answer to these questions: No.

Homeless people don't get the help they need, they certainly aren't represented properly either, but I simply can't help every bum I pass in the street. Should I let my repressed inner catholic come out and feel guilty about it?

What would Jesus do?

More importantly, what would Brian Boitano do?

Jesus Christ was rather famous for not carrying money around. (Well, that's not completely true. Judas Iscariot carried what money they needed, and was known for dipping into it on his own from time to time.) On the other hand, he was well aware of other people's physical needs and how to approach them:

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish--unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Luke 9:12-17 (NIV)

Okay, so manifesting food out of nothingness is beyond the power of us mere mortals. But you're not without options. The point is that spare change is easy, but really meeting the needs of a fellow human being takes some more work. You could turn a loaf of bread and some lunchmeat into a bag of sandwiches to pass out on the way to and from work, for instance. Or carry a large Thermos of coffee or tea or something and a stack of paper cups when the weather demands it.

If your offer is declined, then fine--you made a genuine effort to give them what they really needed instead of what they thought they wanted. But Jesus certainly knew you can't please all of the people all of the time.

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