The Baby’s Not Dying 743.2

My commentary about caring more and judging less by giving a few dollars to panhandlers generated lots of letters, most disagreeing with me. Here’s another story likely to agitate some of you.

A man named Jack was rushing home to tell his family about a $1,000 bonus check he’d unexpectedly received at work.

Before he got to his car, a desperate-looking woman holding a baby who looked quite sick asked him for a few dollars. She said her child was dying of leukemia. Jack reached into his pocket for some loose bills and accidentally pulled out his bonus check.

He looked at the check and then at the baby. Acting spontaneously, he endorsed it to the woman on the spot. “Use this to do what you can for your baby.”

When he told his family what he’d done, his wife was stone silent and his teenage son ridiculed him.

Deflated, Jack said, “We don’t need the money. It felt like the right thing to do.”

A week later, his son triumphantly waved a newspaper article in his face. It told of a local woman with a baby who was arrested for scamming people. “This is the lady you gave the money to, isn’t it?” he chided.

“Yes,” Jack replied, suddenly beaming with joy.

“What are you smiling about?” his son demanded. “She made a fool of you.”

“Yes, but there’s something much more important,” Jack said, “I’m so relieved the baby’s not dying.”

Red-faced with anger, his son declared, “You’re an even bigger fool than I thought.”

After a long, thoughtful pause, Jack’s wife embraced her husband lovingly. “I’m so proud to be married to a man with such a generous heart.”

Who was right – the son or the wife?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 6

  1. I completely agree with the man’s actions in this story. It’s amazing how good you can feel when you let go of your judgements and just give to someone who appears to need it more than you.
    Until a few years ago, I was someone who would get angry when asked for money, regardless of the panhandler’s story or how they appeared. I would scowl at them and tell them “no, I don’t have any money to spare.”
    I’m not sure why it happened, but I decided at the beginning of 2010 that I was really fortunate to have a good job and few bills, and that I really could afford to give away some money. I decided that I would mentally keep a running total just to see how much being nice would cost me.
    It was difficult at first to switch from rejecting these people to reaching into my pocket for a dollar or two. The first person I encountered was a young man who asked for “some change.” I had a dollar bill in my pocket and I handed it to him, and I watched how he just smiled and stared at it as he walked off. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but the experience left me thinking that a single dollar bill, which meant very little to me, really seemed to make his day.
    Now, I make sure to have about $15 in my pocket, and I have two paper clips in the center console of my truck each with five to ten dollars, for the offramp panhandlers. If they are willing to stand there for several hours, holding a cardboard sign and losing a little dignity, then they probably need the help.
    My total for 2010 was about $155. Certainly I can afford that,and more. What it cost me was more than offset by the good feelings I have every time it happens. Frankly, letting go of my anger at these panhandlers is among the most rewarding decisions I have ever made.
    Thank you, Mr. Josephson, for discussing the subject.

  2. Finding the balance of moral and emotional discernment between our brain and heart is a life long journey of learning. Sometimes, in retrospect we see there is no right or wrong. You have continually reminded us for fifteen years; opportunities for personal moral improvement and character growth are endless. Thanks.

  3. Finding the balance of moral and emotional discernment between your brain and heart is a life long journey of learning. Sometimes, in retrospect we see there is no right or wrong. You have continually reminded us for fifteen years; opportunities for personal moral improvement and character growth are endless. Thanks.

  4. It is very interesting that that son referred to his Dad as a fool.
    First impression is so very important. In the “heat” of the moment Jack acted selflessly and with kindness. Much as we are taught in the Golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    His son on the other hand is the fool for not recognizing that sometimes the easy choice is not the always as easy as it would seem. The child lived and will now be in a better home with someone who will hopefully care for it and allow it to grow and learn and be a benefit to society as opposed to it’s mother who was a blight.
    Jack’s son should learn how to be a cheerful giver. For only then do you really understand what charity means.

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