Its happened to all of us. You’re going about your day when someone asks you politely for a dollar (for whatever reason). They are not a performer, a salesman, or a charity foundation. They are simply a common beggar.
It is my belief that if you want money, you should work for it. And by work I don’t mean job. Jobs aren’t for everyone, obviously. I mean that before people give you something, you should give them something. Whether its singing, playing an instrument, telling knock knock jokes, or simply dancing around like you just don’t care. I would much rather give to a man with no arms or legs beat-boxing rather than his duplicate who just sits there.
In the Chinese subway, you must provide some kind of service in exchange for cash if you want to beg. That is a law last I heard. There you will find elderly women out of the job, but still making money by knitting and painting.
But nonetheless my conscience is confused by the subject, so please share your thoughts.
One thing that made an impression on me years ago wasn’t the fact a person needed money on the street. I was standing with a girl I was in love with near a crossing and there was an old man in the corner of the sidewalk, holding a cup and waiting for someone to give him some change. I was in a good mood so I thought of being generous. The girl and I didn’t move, we were enjoying each other so I decided to give the beggar all my change, and so I did the second time I approached. I wasn’t thinking much. I was in love to care about anything else. The man stood up and came to say that he’s leaving and joked that he’ll rob me of everything I decide to give him next and he’s not comfortable with that. He definitely didn’t enjoy doing nothing. So i was curious. What’s exactly the purpose of a human being? To humble ourselves with others’ pain or to let life teach us a hard lesson? You don’t know the past of a homeless person to think of them as common. Not every hobo is the same beggar trying to ruin everyone’s precious day with their existence. My stance is people can end up on the street or dead and everyone begs for bullshit.
Beggars: a person who begs on the streets for a living
Hobo: a homeless person (for wathever reason)
What do they have in common? They are both people, human beings, going through hard times. Of course, there are cases when they’re doing it on purpose – let’s forget those for a moment.
If we are to call us a modern society, we have to take care of our young, our eldery and our poor. While the young require proper education and the eldery needs health care, the poor crave for respect. It’s easy to pay for education and for health care, but you can’t buy respect.
Giving money to beggars on the street it’s not helping them, at least not on the medium/long run. Whenever we give them money, so they disappear from our lives, they feel even more disrespected and outcasted. How do you think they feel performing (some of them) the most ridiculous art forms on the subway? They feel like shit and they wish they wouldn’t need to do it just to attract your attention and your fifty cents.
The best oneself can do to help others begging or living on the street is to talk to them, giving them time and showing some respect. Take the time to know them, present yourself as well, and have lunch with them – like you would do with some other friend of yours. Just don’t ignore them.
It is hard to do, specially when everything goes around money, and people are only second to it. But I’ll do my part, and if you’d do yours, we’re halfway there.
My stance is definitely similar to Marlon @shoeopener‘s. If at all possible, I’ll try to get a picture of the person asking for money before making a decision, thus sort of undermining the term “stance” because I think it’s unfair to form a generalization on a group of people who do not willingly belong to said group.
The main thing I’m looking out for are rackets. I wrote a paper on the topic once and it has been / sort of still is a major problem in many countries, India being a country that stands out in this regard. Rackets abuse people’s optimism and kindness. I’m not saying that people who take a negative stance aren’t optimistic or kind, though. The thing is that in most situations, we have no idea if the beggar is a part of a racket (you can research the topic, mainly means that they get a fraction of the change you give them) or not.
You don’t know their past, maybe they drank themselves to this position, or maybe their life’s path was not that different to you, but the fact you are more successful than them may simply be due to the “stars not aligning” or, if you’re thinking religiously, maybe God decided to test them in this manner, while you might be challenged in a different way. Regardless of your way of thinking, I choose to not choose a stance on beggars, because I believe the whole idea beggars being a “social group” and not just different individuals with different pasts, is wrong.
For me personally, it helps that I don’t really carry that much change in my pockets and I’m not upper class anyway. If I’m in a hurry or if I’m in a mindset which would make it hard to assess the situation at hand, I imagine I’d usually ignore them during those times. If I had time, however, I think I’d try to talk to the person (if they addressed me personally) and find out why they needed the money and why don’t they have the money they need. It might make me feel like some nitpicky snob who starts a formal conversation on social politics over a few dimes.. But the thing is, that if you imagine yourself as a beggar in a metropolitan area, you’d probably expect to pass by thousands of people a day (or thousands of people to pass by you). Maybe a permille of thouse people actually consider giving you money. If you were sincere in your cause, you would probably be ready to start a conversation with a number of those people, as long as it’s not aimed offensively at you. That’s how I think, anyway.
All in all, I’m glad that I live in an area rural enough in this country that you’re not likely to see many beggars if none at all. Most stationary people in the street are buskers and most people who ask for something are charity workers. When I visit big cities or better yet when I visited London for the first time it was a real culture shock let me tell you. But I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging that I don’t come into contact with beggars that often. I just feel like it’s a serious dilemma because picking a “stance” will inevitably either get you taken advantage of, or then missing out on the opportunity to actually make a difference for a person.
But for people who believe that those who choose not to give to beggars are unkind, I really recommend donating to charity rather than donating to beggars indiscriminately. You’ll be making a much bigger difference, even though donating to charity might seem harder than giving some spare change to a man or a woman on the street.
See, I have no problem with giving to the needy. That should be a basic moral principle for most people. I just don’t understand why so many people just give up, when they could be enriching the lives of those around them while making a substantial income. ex. A man who tries to clean my windshield will earn my respect over a man who just holds a cup at me. I just feel like nobody(aside from a few) has a reason to be doing absolutely nothing. I just want to see people get creative.
You’re too negative about starving to death!
Honestly, your OP made me think of this scene and getting creative. The truth is there’s inequality, environments that kill creativity and hope, and fundamentally people who get treated like shit and don’t know how to protect themselves and their mental health. A lot of people don’t know how and give up after trying because they’re already damaged physically, emotionally. Getting creative is nice if it really helps others physically and emotionally. Getting your windshield washed isn’t helpful to your overall well-being you know. Do you get my point?
I understand where you’re coming from, Matterhorn @matterhorn36 , but the fact is a certain skepticism is paramount in order to make a decision. Beggar rackets are real, and supporting business which takes advantage of people in poverty and their children, and further takes advantage of people’s emotions, should not be supported in any way.
I’m not saying giving money to the needy is wrong, but indiscriminate donation of money to beggars is not giving to the needy. You first must differentiate the wanty from the needy, wouldn’t you agree? In my opinion charity is not a problem, no way, but giving “donations” to people without confirming they are eligible (to fulfil the definition of “in need”) to receive them is a bit problematic.
Nope. I hung around with some beggar kids and they are the most morally fucked up people I’ve met. The older they are the more hopeless.
It’s all their choice, and begging is their income, not this catastrophe thing that they feel ashamed of doing, and are trying to get better. Nope. Those people don’t exist, or very rarely.
Unless you feel comfortable giving the homeless a pint of vodka or a shot of heroin then don’t give them any money.