A discussion on a forum brought back memories of the dilemma which used to haunt me during my college days. Those were the days when students used to dream of making it big, making a difference in the society, doing the right thing and such things. I too was one of them. I knew I would be a tax paying citizen in a year or so and that thought made me hold my head so high that it almost touched my college roof. We used to argue about small things. Euthanasia, abortion, reservations for backward classes, MBA vs. Ms and what not. The topic which I never discussed with my friends was begging.
Every time I saw a beggar, the socially active girl in me would pop up and hurl hundreds of questions at me. To give or not to give was the dilemma. The soft hearted girl in me would answer in the affirmative, whereas the rebel in me said no. I would think and think about this, but was never convinced that either of the choice was right. There was no one I could talk to about this. Nobody felt right, you know. After a lot of argument between me and me, I concluded not to give money. This was my humble attempt to discourage begging, I justified. Whether or not the beggar was actually being discouraged from begging and made him think of taking up a job didn’t matter. I was happy enough to know that I wasn’t encouraging begging in any way.
I was satisfied with my decision until I met an old beggar who could hardly walk. I reasoned with myself. This man can’t even walk, what work can he do? And Who will give him any work? With so many unemployed young men, who would even notice this old man? That’s when I broke my own rule. I gave him money. That day, I added an ‘if’ clause to my rule.
This doesn’t apply to handicapped beggars, though. They fail to evoke any sympathy in me. I know quite a few physically challenged people earning a decent livelihood. Their life is no bed of roses. They work hard, they face stiff competition from so called normal people, yet their faith remains undeterred.
The beggars I really loathe are the ones who carry a baby around. They give birth to babies so that they can use them for begging. Talk about getting and edge over others. When the signal is red, their faces have the most heart-wrenching emotions and just when the light turns green, they metamorphose into normal people. They keep themselves and the babies dirty on purpose, they don’t feed their babies so that they don’t look healthy and attract more money. What woman can keep her own baby hungry? This category of beggars elicits such hatred in me that I just want to run them all down with my vehicle.
Even after setting my own rule and adding a clause to it, I can’t help but go back to the same question every time I see a genuine-looking beggar on road. Am I doing the right thing by not giving money to the beggar? I think so. At least, at this point of time.