Opinion: Bóthar pointing the way on gifts that make all the difference
Like most people, I've met a few bad eggs but I still believe that human nature is basically good.
Most of us want to help those who need help. The many scandals and scams have shaken our trust. But please don't let the fear of being "had" stop you from reaching out a helping hand, especially at this time of year.
Last week, a friend of mine named Linda came upon a young homeless man begging in Kilkenny. She stopped to talk to him. He was just 19. She asked if he would like a coffee. He said he would love one. She got him one, also the biggest cookie in the shop.
If the man was genuine, Linda's kindness and few euro may have made a small but significant difference to his life. If he wasn't genuine, the €5 wasn't going to break her.
The gap between rich and poor in society is widening and the sense of community declining, so those who slip through the net these days fall faster and further.
As a society we are more comfortable financially than we were in the past, so we need to ensure we don't lose our precious quality of empathy.
A few months back, I called into the Montague Hotel in Emo, Co Laois, now a direct provision centre for refugees, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. No, I was told, the residents have everything they need. On €19 a week, really? But one other thing of interest I was told is that every week they get a couple of offers of help.
Damien O'Reilly recently did a very interesting radio interview with Jim Gavin, about his country roots, his role as Dublin football manager and work as a pilot.