I’d like your thoughts on a moral dilemma I encountered last night in San Francisco. Here’s the story:

On my way in to an In-n-Out Burger to grab a quick bite, there was a homeless guy in his mid-twenties sitting in front of the door with his scrawny-but-cute dog. He asked, “Could you please spare some food when you come out?”.

Now, San Francisco is known for having one of the worst homeless problems in the nation. But the homeless’ public benefits here are good compared to the rest of the nation (health care, shelters, etc). Many argue that the homeless situation is so bad because most homeless receive benefits well enough such that they don’t have an incentive to try and remedy their situation. That is, it’s just easy enough to be homeless, that they don’t try to be otherwise.

So:

  1. Do you give the guy some food on the way out (or some money) because it is the holiday season after all, you’re a Christian, and you genuinely want to help people in times of need?
  2. Or do you ignore the request because if you succumb, you’re only ‘enabling’ that person, plus you make it uncomfortable for future restaurant guests because the homeless person might be encouraged to stay there and try again later.

What do you do? Why?