On the face of things, there are many reasons we have to stop ourselves reacting to people in need we see on the street. They do not necessarily have to be homeless. They may just be someone who has fallen over. They may be an adult with many children that need help – perhaps one has got sick, and the adult has a baby in the stroller or arm. But stepping in to help is more of a thing people increasingly do less, because they don’t want to overextend themselves.
So imagine perhaps if you have overextended yourself to help someone in need. They may have fallen over in the street, or become unconscious, or in some way been unable to look after themselves and be trusted to be safe. You stay with them until you are convinced that they are safe, help has been delivered and you are safe to carry on. Now because you have been with them for a long time, you are perhaps suddenly aware that you have your own needs to attend to. Perhaps you need to use the public facilities. You head inside a pub or cafe outside which help has just been rendered and just before you are about to step in, the staff politely inform you that toilets are for patrons only. Never mind that this is just outside the place where you had given help, rules are rules, and not meant to be broken. Never mind that the staff had seen that you had given help. Would you think this unreasonable?
If you had spent three hours talking someone off jumping off a bridge, and then needed some physical respite, would it be unreasonable?
If you stopped to help a stranger who was injured and had your clothes covered in blood, would it be unreasonable to expect to use the toilet to clean up?
Or if you stayed with a stranger on the street in the cold because there was someone else threatening them and they feared being alone, would having a cup of tea for your efforts be reasonable – without having to put a price on every action?
The composer Vaughan Williams was famous for his generosity and willingness to embrace his fellow human beings. Apparently he once donated the earnings from a published book to help someone on the streets. (You can read more about Vaughan Williams from the Posted on