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These kind of conversations come up quite a lot these days – begging used to be rare in Wellington and Auckland and now it’s quite common. Does the government heaving people off the benefit and cutting social services have anything to do with it? Undoubtedly. As the local elections get closer, the right wing hopefuls are proposing a Rudy Giuliani-style sweep the homeless off the streets, with people like Nicola Young at the helm.

I showed Jonathan this comic and he said “that beggar looks like your dad”. So I added this little bit to the comic, the other thing that really bothers me:


Sometimes I think it’s easier not to overthink things. But if you don’t overthink things then your subconscious brain takes over and makes a whole lot of crap decisions and judgements.












8 Comments leave one →
  1. William permalink
    09/04/2016 12:16 pm

    He has a lot more hair than me
    Very thoughtful and compassionate posting, as you say the issue is complicated and seems to not being addressed except with draconian banning!

  2. Renata Hopkins permalink
    09/04/2016 12:48 pm

    I hadn’t heard of Nicola Young until this story broke, but her voice alone on RNZ gave me the shudders. Ha – how’s that for “judgy brain”? I was heartened to hear the feedback though – most people saying they would happily break that law if it was ever passed, or saying WTF – the council wants to legislate against generosity?

  3. Marion permalink
    09/04/2016 2:01 pm

    It is complicated and brings all sorts of feelings and judgements. One of my favourite cafes in Christchurch is near a busy 4 lane bridge over the Avon. I think for many years homeless people have slept under the bridge, driving past we have seen their little nests of bags and clothes and bedding. Twice on recent visits to the cafe I have seen a man sitting on a seat on the riverbank by the bridge with his bicycle and all his possessions in plastic bags. He was combing his long hair meticulously and tying it into a ponytail then organizing all his bits and pieces. On the one hand he looks like he is managing his homeless status which I respect, and on the other he makes me feel quilty sitting smugly inside sipping coffee and eating breakfast.

  4. 09/04/2016 6:14 pm

    It is difficult – we rely on the government structure to provide the right level of support for people who find themselves locked out of opportunities and communities for whatever reason. That is part of the reason why we pay tax. When Government runs a country like a business and dehumanises those left marginalised by the policies they’ve enacted, social problems such as crime and poverty are inevitable. And yes, nobody likes to see people who are desperate and living on the streets.. It is uncomfortable – but blaming them directly for being excluded from society is a cop out. For example I can only sympathise with Nicola Young – it’s not really her fault that she lacks intelligence and empathy. The way she was brought up and the company she keeps have probably formed her opinions in that way. Through education and experience she may come to change and become a better person. Changes that address the root cause of the problem are the only solution, and it’s on our elected leaders to provide services and support for those who need it.

  5. Caroline permalink
    09/04/2016 8:55 pm

    Fantastic post, Sarah.

  6. Navina Clemerson permalink
    10/04/2016 9:53 am

    Centuries-old Jewish wisdom tradition recommends that we should be alert to opportunities to practice generosity and have money in our pocket when we leave the house. And: it is better to give a little often, rather than a lot in one go, even if the end amount is the same.

    What the person receiving the money does with it is their own business.

  7. 17/04/2016 3:22 pm

    You’re a good egg, Sarah Laing!


  1. It couldn’t happen to me: denial and the “ban begging” debate – Choose your Story

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