On Sunday, not one hour before I was to head over to my local Temple for Bhagavad-Gita study, I clicked on my Facebook account. There was a message from a guy I went to high school with, but have seen once since, and have only within the last month reconnected with, via the aforementioned social medium. The message read:
“Dude give me a call ASAP if you can.(###-###-####). Thanks”
I showed it to my wife and wondered what it could mean. Nothing negative really entered my mind. I mulled it over for a minute, then came to feel that I simply must call him. So I did. After making some small talk, he told me that he was in one helluva pickle and needed a certain amount of money ASAP for which he’d pay me back by the end of this week. I won’t go into what the “pickle” was, though I will say that it was something that touched my heart and made me feel I must act. The whole time I was thinking of the Bhagavad-Gita and detached action.
However, I tend to be the hasty type. I told him I’d talk it over with my wife and get back to him. We have quite a bit on our plate ourselves. After talking it over it came down to two things:
1) Was I willing to shell out that kind of money without expecting it back, should something fall through for any number of reasons? I said I was.
2) Did this scenario that this person described to me make sense. After really talking it over, in many ways it did not. For instance it did not make sense that it had come down to me, who he had not talked to in years, as his only hope at the moment. Family? Close friends? Nobody could come together to help him in the dire circumstances he described?
3) I worried about the outcome of this situation for the people involved, were he tellin the truth.
4) I worried about my own karma should I be mistaken in my wariness of this situation.
Before I left for temple I wrote him and I suggested to him that if it was truly this serious surely he’d be able to get what he needed and work out a payment plan afterward. And if not surely there were programs he could go to for help. Honestly I was just buying time. Like I said I didn’t care if I got the money back, and I knew that if I lent him the money and he did not get it back to me, it was on him and it had nothing to do with me. But I wasn’t sure if I could do it at the moment, nor was I sure at all that I trusted him asking me in the way he did.
Here’s where it gets interesting. At the Gita discussion that day, one of the men in the group just happened to bring up how sometimes someone asking you for money was an opportunity for you to show them self-sufficiency. Never mind whether you trust their motives in asking or not. That doesn’t matter. But regardless of what their true need is, can they truly do it for themselves? A fair point, I thought. Even so, seva is an important concept in Hinduism. An important part of any well-rounded dharma. It is karma yoga at its finest.
But something did not add up. And this discussion at the Temple having come up at such an opportune time moved me again. When I got home I wrote this person and explained my situation and let him know, so as not to leave him hanging, that I could not help him. I have not heard back from him. In the end, when I went to the temple, I prayed for the removal of the obstacles in this man’s life, that he might find a way out of this “pickle.”
What are your opinions of my actions in this situation? In my uncertainty of the situation should I have played it safe and assumed he was telling the absolute truth? Part of me feels I should have.