New Yorkers, if not city dwellers everywhere, might acknowledge a debt to Pope Francis this week. He has offered a concrete, permanently useful prescription for dealing with panhandlers.
It’s this: Give them the money, and don’t worry about it.
The pope’s advice, from an interview with a Milan magazine published just before the beginning of Lent, is startlingly simple. It’s scripturally sound, yet possibly confounding, even subversive.
Living in the city — especially in metropolises where homelessness is an unsolved, unending crisis — means that at some point in your day, or week, a person seeming (or claiming) to be homeless, or suffering with a disability, will ask you for help.
You probably already have a panhandler policy.
You keep walking, or not. You give, or not. Loose coins, a dollar, or just a shake of the head. Your rule may be blanket, or case-by-case.
If it’s case by case, that means you have your own …
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