Irreverent Mama

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Street people come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and orientation, all capabilities, mental and physical. You live in a city, you become accustomed to them. I am a compassionate person, some would call me a sap. I give money, sometimes buy meals for them, or show them the 24 hour place that will serve them no matter what their appearance, sometimes stop and chat after tossing a twonie in the ball cap.

But it struck me as a little bizarre this morning when I passed a young woman holding a cardboard sign that said "HUNGRY. Anything will help, food, drink, $, cents". Signs like these always get to me. It must be awful to be hungry, and have no money, no recourse to help yourself. "Hungry." The pathos of this chokes me every time. Except that this young woman weighed at least 300 pounds. At least.

(I'm quite sure of this, because my sister weighs over 300, and this woman was just as round and several inches taller.)

This woman says she's HUNGRY. I'm sure she is. I'm also sure that if she were to eat exactly what I eat any given day, she'd be hungry all day long. But she wouldn't be in need.



  • I too have been known to have a knee jerk reaction to judge fat people. It is based on fear. Fear that I could one day be them, fear that I am powerless to help.

    When I see someone hugely overweight, I try to note the physical size, as the size of their pain. Then I try to imagine how old they were when the pain started? What happened? Would I judge the little four year old who was sexually abused? Would I judge the ten year old who blames herself for her parent's break-up? We don't know the form of their pain, but there is always pain behind an act of physical abuse to ourselves, behind every addiction.
    It all stems from a true hunger. Spiritual hunger.

    I should say, I am not one to stop and give a handout to every person I see. I do try to remember (though not always succesful at this...sometimes the judge wins) to bless them and send them love, and when I do get that uncomfortable feeling to silently thank them for pointing out an area in me that needs work!

    By Blogger Michelle O'Neil, at 8:48 a.m.  

  • Well, whether one feels her pain or not, the lass is hardly smart. If she'd put up a sign saying 'poor', 'needy' or 'desperate', it would make one feel compassion - but 'hungry'? I'd be as likely to give money to her as to someone with a sign saying 'please give me money to buy drugs'.

    By Blogger Z, at 11:48 a.m.  

  • As you know, my family is hugely overweight. None of them are in pain (except from the discomforts, emotional and physical, of their obesity). I know this isn't a politically correct thing to say, but the people in my family are not in significant psychic pain. They just like to eat, and they don't move around enough. Sometimes it is that simple.

    Now a street person? There's much more likely to be pain and fear in her background, I agree. Who knows how and why she came to be so immense, but there could be much deeper reasons than simple gluttony.

    However, my reaction to her wasn't one of judgment or of fear. My point was merely an appreciation of the irony of her sign.

    Like Z, I feel that her sign was ill-advised. "The lass is hardly smart."

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 3:01 p.m.  

  • I give to women....flat out....I know that sometimes it might be a scam, but there but by the grace of the goddess go I.......Anne

    By Blogger crazymumma, at 10:22 p.m.  

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