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A moral dilemma

I realize this opens me up for attack and ridicule, but I felt the need to share the moral dilemma I found myself in the other night.  My family and I stayed in Denver for much of this week while dh was at a conference.Wednesday night we went to a Rockies game, we were in nosebleed seats and a young woman walked up to us and told us that she could give us seats over the bullpen and a bag of goodies if we agreed to wear Toyota t-shirts, hats and then sit in a car and be videotaped and placed on the Jumbotron at bottom of the 2nd. It was an incredible experience. 

Now, on the ride back to the hotel on the RTD shuttle, there were 3 homeless young men sitting in the seats we were standing in front of.  We all had our new t-shirts on because it was chilly.  One of the young men was very charasmatic, he was filthy, but had a beautiful smile and was very engaging.  He reminded me of River Phoenix.   He asked us where we got the t-shirts and we told him the story.  He directly asked my husband for a shirt, saying "Look at my shirt, it's tattered and dirty"  To my shame, none of us gave him our shirts.  A few seconds later he saw someone outside the window he knew and a whole group of Lost Boys (as they called themselves) jumped off the train.

I cried as I prayed and asked God for forgiveness that night, yesterday I took my t-shirt down to the 16th St Mall (An outdoor mall in the middle of downtown Denver) as I shopped, I looked everywhere I could for him, but I didn't find him. I have a feeling that he and his gang don't show up until late night

In that moment on the bus, I resisted every right thinking instinct I had, because I was chilly.  My question to you all, do you feel what I did was sinful?  And what is the best way to atone for this sin, outside of my Catholic demand of confession and absolution?


Asked by adnilm at 10:04 AM on Jun. 1, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 40 (118,866 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (69)
  • I'm kind of surprised to read this from you. Not the denying the kids the shirts... actually, that doesn't bother me. It's the guilt you're feeling that surprises me.

    Of course, Catholic roots... **smile** I used to be Catholic, so I get it. You're talking about a sin of omission. A failure to love others as we love ourselves; being the priest who passed the man in the ditch instead of the Good Samaritan who helped him.

    But you have to also remember that sins are FORGIVEN. Take this as a lesson to do better next time. We are none of us perfect and God expects slips. Perhaps this was just a way of giving you a check to make sure you remember the spirit of the Word.

    Answer by gdiamante at 11:38 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • Now you went back to find the young man and give him your shirt and couldn't find him again. So on that note you had tried to correct whatever you felt you may have done wrong. Perhaps if you are seeking atonement aside from the confession and absolution, you may consider getting more inolved in the community in programs that help people in similar situations as this man. Do a food drive in your neighborhood, do a purge of the household with the family and donate clothes, toys, etc that you no longer wear or need. Maybe even encourage your neighbors to do so and take it all down to the local shelter. Clothings, Blankets, sheets, and heck even toilet papaer and other bathroom items you may take for granted like tooth brushes and shampoo.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 10:28 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • . I am struggling with the reason why I didn't, and I can't figure that out.

    That is something only you can answer. It may have been a "gut" feeling that perhaps he was too charismatic and not really as in need as it appeared (professional pan-handling) it may have been pressure from the group you were in to not, or wiat until someone else took the initiative. (Something I learned in psychology about when there are large groups of people witnessing an incident it becomes a "shared responsibility" issue and they won't react unless someone else takes the first step). It could be a number of different things. Only you can answer the reason as to why

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 10:37 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • You may be surprised at just how much your own town is suffering and in need. And even though this may not impact the young man you met directly, It will help others that may be in the same situation.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 10:30 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • No home- public restrooms allow for washing up

    he was about 15 years old- there are options available to him i.e. Sox Place and if he'd been on the streets of Denver for any amount of time, he'd probably known about it.

    If you are looking for something to do as atonement perhaps donating to a teen shelter would be the best route. It would allow you to help more than just this one person as Brawny suggested.

    Ridicule: no, only surprise that you have allowed it to affect you so deeply. For me, it would be a non issue.


    Answer by feralxat at 10:53 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • Sometimes that's all the reason you have. Just "it didn't feel right". And in those cases, you just have to trust that your instinct was right.

    I don't think you really need to atone for anything, but if you do, then do something to help the homeless in your own area. Donate clothes, work a soup kitchen for a couple of days, etc.

    One time of not helping someone does not make you a horrible person.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 10:54 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • Macbudsmom, at the risk of sounding cold-hearted, I need to say that 99% is too high of a number. There are reasons beyond our control for poverty and homelessness. And then there is choice. There's a man that lives in the woods around my neighborhood. He has a very nice trust account, local family who have tried to help him and a drug addiction. His family has cut him off until he gets clean - and so he lives in the woods, camping out on his little pop up chair on the corner of a major intersection waiting for others to pity him and hand him cash or food. There are hundreds in tent cities in our county. Social services has offered them shelter and aid with the caveat that they must accept treatment for their addictions or health challenges. Most won't accept the aid. The teen down the block form me ran away because she felt her parent's rules were unreasonable. (cont)

    Answer by ldmrmom at 10:58 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • There was a good christian boy in our area. He saw a car by the side of the road and figured that they needed help. So he obeyed his trust-everybody, religious sensibilities and stopped. When he walked up to the window of the car he was shot point blank in the face and killed by a pair of teens who "just wanted to see what it would be like to kill somebody." We skeptical, suspicious people would not likely do that, but a good christian will do it every time. And sometimes, they pay for being so trusting. Don't know how many times I've heard a newscast describe the murder victim as a sweet, trusting person that EVERYBODY liked, because they would help anyone that was in a jam. What is done cannot be undone. You can't know what might have been. You can only decide what will be in the future.

    Answer by witchqueen at 6:49 PM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • Whether or not you were sinful depends on your defeinition or categorization of sin. From some perspectives however it may have been seen as selfish, especially from that of the guy asking for the shirt. But as feral pointed out there is a reason the young man found himself in that situation. You don't know what that situation is. He may have fallen on hard times, or been kicked out at a young age from his home, or he could be a professional pan-handler (yes there really are people that make a "living" off conning others into thinking they are down on their luck so they can get "help" and walk away with pockets full and plenty of free things they turn around and sell). So really it c omes down to whether you feel guilty about it or not. Clearly if you're posting you have some reservations about your actions, or inaction as it may be

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 10:24 AM on Jun. 1, 2012

  • There was the girl that showed up seeking add at the church my mother was working at who complained that the brand of peanut butter the food bank had available was not the kind she liked. In the course of her conversation she came out and said "Welfare was good enough for my mother and it will be good enough for me."

    Believe me, I volunteer with a group that provides housing (in churches) for displaced and homeless families. I contribute to the food bank regularly. I have donated money, books, materials, clothing, etc to various organizations that assist individuals who need it. But in doing all that, I am also jaded enough to say that while there are a millions who need help not by their own choice there are also millions who could help themselves and are out there because they elect to be. While I think we all need to give when we can, I also think we need to be wise about how we do so.

    Answer by ldmrmom at 11:01 AM on Jun. 1, 2012