A really awesome by-product to my work with homeless people is that I get notes and messages from people from all over who’ve tried helping in some way or another after I’ve “inspired” them.  I’m always so moved by these comments and it reminds me the ripple effect of noble action.

Nearly everyday someone asks me about how to discern “who really needs it?” and “who’s scamming?”.  People generally want to give and to be in service but the judgements bubble up and they wonder the usual things like “will they just go drink it away?”

I got the following note just this week, I’ve seen a hundred just like it:

“……….In the end, I couldn’t tell if I was being “taken”, but I chose to believe him and have compassion for him and gave him the $12 change I had in my hand from a taxi ride.  What do you think? Was he for real? (I have heard of kids pretending to be homeless just to get money…in fact, I ran into a couple doing just that years ago….)”

I really understand these worries.  What I’ve come to know is that trying to decide is more damaging than getting scammed in the first place.  In the pause, in the judgement, something happens.  The pauses add up, the fear immobilizes gratitude and the eventual result is much of what we now see so pervasive in our society.

My answer to my friends question this week, my answer all the time now:

Real compassion is not about solutions.  It’s about giving all the love you’ve got.  





  • Tina Mason

    Hi Tyler, I have experienced this alot lately, being down town for the last7weeks!. To give and not expect anything in return for me is what works Sometimes I have a feeling that I shouldn’t and I don’t I call that grace other times I know I should and give freely I feel better when I give but sad when I fallow grace not to! ! Respectfully, Tina