How do we treat strangers?

Most people like to think they treat strangers like we’d like to be treated, with unlimited generosity, but few walk the talk.

 

A rather generous man who rarely uses his own backyard discovers a homeless man has been living there in a small tent right next to the ally, what should he do?  His heart goes out the man and he’s inclined to let him stay because he’s doing no harm other than a little dead grass under his tent and lets him live in a RV trailer that is already in his back yard.  About a month later he notices the man now has a little dog that he saved from almost certain death at the pound; it’s cute but barks at night and even though the homeless man picks up the poop, the grass has lots of small dead urine stains and doesn’t seem sanitary anymore.  What the heck, he feels lucky to own a house and doesn’t object.

 

The next month the homeless man adds some family members, and another rather dilapidated RV.  The homeless man explains they have nowhere else they can go, and even though he really doesn’t like what’s going on he sucks it up imagining how he’d feel if he were in their shoes.  He notices they now have an extension cord running from the RV’s to an outlet on his porch.

 

Soon his neighbors start complaining because the extra cars are complicating his neighbors parking and some are even suggesting the homeless have been responsible for missing things in the neighborhood.  Instead of caving in the generous man reminds his neighbors how lucky they are to have homes of their own and tells them they are his guests.

 

The situation continues, a few more people move there too, and although they are keeping the yard clean and putting out the trash, the constant noise becomes more than a little annoying and it’s starting to cost him more money.  He’s had to order an extra trash can from the city and his water and power bill is up.  The breaker on the electric circuit they plugged into popped too many times and had to be replaced, that was expensive.

 

When his own family has birthdays and other special occasions he feels compelled to invite his new neighbors but doing so is not popular with his family or relatives and his backyard guests have started asking for handouts rather regularly, mostly for food for the children, and when it’s hot, cold drinks.  His wife begins to be upset about how often there are people she doesn’t even know in her own backyard.

 

Things finally come to a head when his own wife tells him they have to go or she’s going back to mom and taking their kids with her after one of the backyard guests puts a big dent in her car and had no money to get it fixed.  He finally asks them to leave and promptly learns he will have to evict them because they do live there.  He feels horrible, especially for the children, but after a few months and a few thousand dollars in legal fees, they are gone.

Is he a good man?  Did he do the right thing?

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