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< Back to question Should you give money to beggars? Show more Show less

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

Yes, you should always give to those who have less. Show more Show less

If you were homeless, you'd want someone to help you out with money.
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It will make you feel good

Acts of kindness are oftentimes more for the person doing the act than the recipient.
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Proponents


Context

Doing good deeds is related to a whole host of health benefits, including weight control, blood pressure, chronic pain, and depression. The brain releases "feel-good" neurotransmitters when you give charitably, in a cycle that psychologists call "the helper's high" .

The Argument

Not only does giving money to beggars benefit them, but it also helps to improve your well-being as well. The rush of endorphins[1] released into your body after doing an act of kindness is what is known as the 'helper's high', and it ultimately provides the giver with positive feelings such as satisfaction and pleasure. There are several other ways in which giving money to a homeless person could be beneficial to the giver. For example, it allows you to recognize your own privilege and be grateful for what you have. It may also provide a needed distraction from problems and stressors in your everyday life[1]. Not only will financially helping a homeless person improve your emotional health, but your physical health will be positively affected as well. Studies have suggested that those who volunteer due to altruistic values live longer than those who don't and tend to have a better quality of life[2]. If helping the homeless becomes part of a consistent routine, these long-term physical benefits could apply to you as well. This is why it is always a good choice to give to a beggar whenever you are able and have the means to do so.

Counter arguments

It may make you feel good to give in the moment, but if you are conflicted about whether it was the right decision you may ultimately feel worse. Achieving the 'helper's high', and only caring about how you benefit from the exchange, should not be the sole reason behind your donation. While giving to beggars may result in positive feelings for some people, it could incur just the opposite in others. This is known as 'compassion fatigue', which leaves you feeling powerless, hopeless, and burdened by the poverty and suffering that you witnessed firsthand[3].

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Giving to beggars is not a good deed and as such will not make you feel good.

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201409/helpers-high-the-benefits-and-risks-altruism
  2. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/11/volunteering
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201407/are-you-suffering-compassion-fatigue

This page was last edited on Friday, 31 Jul 2020 at 01:10 UTC

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