In the upscale downtown area, near our hotel, hustlers and panhandlers stake out territory on every block. They're in front of 40 story banks, Nordstrom's, Macy's, Tiffany's and other ritzy retailers.
A man and a woman go through trash cans along the street. Their plastic bags bulge with aluminum cans and maybe other stuff. They're industrious and energetic, unlike the panhandlers. I have the thought that if they put half that energy into a real job they'd soon own the company.
On a corner an older woman is panhandling. I'm moved to help until I hear her story. She shouts out to passersby that she's a homeless grandmother and supporting three grandchildren. I'm suspicious. I don't see kids anywhere. I keep my money.
I start to give some bills to an older, beat-up man with a sign. But when I approach him he says something like "you'll burn in a lake of fire." I didn't know whether he meant if I gave him money or if I didn't give him money so I got out of there.
We did help some. And they were the ones who didn't say much. Those who seemed to have severe physical or emotional issues. Some were so out of it they barely acknowledged us.
It is a commentary on our world to see so many addicts and homeless in the midst of such affluence.
There are no easy answers. But I do know we addicts can find help if we want. But it only happens when we get enough pain to want to change.