Treading Treading (Deliverance)

Downtown beggar waiting by the ATM catches my eye smells of drink, doesn’t act as though he’s better than I am, calls me “sir,” says “God bless you,” though I don’t give him any change. I’ve been told if you give them cash they can use it to buy liquor when what they need is to stop drinking, get a job, and stop bothering people like me. Yet here is a person like myself but whose belongings are likely to be less than what I have in my pocket. When Jesus said to sell everything and give the money to the poor was he thinking of someone like this alcoholic gentleman? A pocket full of change won’t answer these questions and a conversation is more than I will offer a beggar on the street. I can’t cure a beggar of his fear or a banker of his guilt. I leave like a burglar with empty hands having entered through an open door. I don’t cause anyone trouble. I study the soft sell. No one owes me their money. Most people aren’t generous. I have to find their hidden weakness. When I see a guy towed from store to store by a wife and her dog, and his clothes are too tight, I feel sorry for him. People think, “If only I were free,” but it takes a special talent for disregarding the obvious. You tell me— What’s more important? A regular income, or living without stress? A wife and kids to love? Or having space to be yourself. Food to make you fat? Or enough hunger to sharpen your mind? Some people pay for adventure, but I get it free. Risky behaviors are part of my life, but I know what I’m doing; I’m a professional. So what if I drink a little too much? You have to take a man’s weaknesses with his strengths. It’s not easy to accept reality. When you squash a real person, he doesn’t bounce back like a character in a cartoon. People who talk about it but who can’t see it for what it is make me sick.