The topic of giving to the poor is so important while also controversial. Often while traveling through town you will see individuals on the corner asking for financial help. Many of us struggle with what to do in these situations as we are good people who want to help relieve the suffering of those hurting while also attending to the scriptures that direct us towards those actions.
On the other hand we also have parts of ourselves that have evolved and developed in a way to be suspicious of those not in our group and thus we also receive in our group and thus we also receive teachings that tell us to be careful which can cause us to feel excused from feeling the need to give money to those asking for it.
My point that I am hinting at is not that this is a simple issue that can be easily resolved, but instead I feel that it is important that we be aware of all those things that influence us as I feel that too often we allow one of those two sides win while I feel they are both valuable teachings. However many take one of them as an excuse to not think about how little they give.
My main thought is that whether you decide to give to panhandlers or not, I feel that we should not forget that there is really an incredible amount of suffering in the world. There are areas of the world where even members of our church do not have the nutrients they need. I believe that as members of our modern society we have the ability to help in incredible ways, and I hope we will also attempt to do so.
Cheiko Okazaki once taught that “No one is hungry in the next life; so if we want to share food with those who weep from hunger, we must do it in this life. No one is cold or naked. If we want to give a pair of shoes to a barefoot child, we must do it in this life. We know that the wicked suffer remorse, but there is no indication in the scriptures that there is grief or loneliness or sorrow among those in paradise. So if we want to give comfort and encouragement, we must do it in mortality.”