Have you ever been followed by a street child to be bullied into giving your drink or food or throwing pennies their way?
In these parts, it’s nearly normal to be persuaded into giving something to these poor scruffy kids, even if it’s against your will, sometimes.
I am a big fan of the motto “Give a man fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”. Even though I have compassion on these street children, I am still pretty disappointed when they have to bully me to get my food. I am no elitist by any means, however, I believe that people should be taught that money does not grow on trees.
I believe that even the destitute should not feel entitled to alms. I believe that it is admirable for a person who was born to poverty to actually rise to success. I believe in funding the education of those willing to surmount circumstances. Yet I am never in favor of even feeding those whose only claim to your breakfast is the fact that he or she is in poverty.
I guess my reasoning is that: “Why is it that a lot of the less fortunate can actually dream and surmount their circumstances by working hard and finding means and pulling all the stops, just to send their children to school? How did those multimillionaires who started from sheer, rat-infested scratch get to where they are now? Why can’t these others replicate this?”
It frustrates me that just because they were born to poverty, these people feel content to sleep under the bridge, on the train stations, and harass people for their daily bread. I understand their situation, but something is not right here. I mean, they have a complete set of limbs, mostly, as a friend observed. Why can’t they use these the way we do?
There is so much to do: they can go into learning how to do manual labor, or even skilled labor. The women can try their hand at washing other people’s clothes. They can try to be street sweepers, they can then try to put their kids through education up until the next generations surmount the poverty. Honestly, there is just no excuse for indolence. I believe that giving to people who can otherwise work for their food but they choose to beg is giving to the undeserved. It’s a folly of sorts: misplaced generosity.
There was this time that I was buying food and the guy who was standing there brazenly asked me for money. I think he saw the money in my ratty purse, that’s why he asked for money. Not that I had much, you know. I just told him, “I think you’re asking for much too much. I had slaved over this money, you know!” (“Sobra ka naman, Kuya, pinaghirapan ko ‘to, no!“).
The scary stories never end, and I fear that when I do not give my food, I will be physically attacked, like the stories of some of my friends. One of them actually got clawed, I think, by a street kid, a girl, who was high on rugby (rubber cement).
And so, while I grudgingly hand over my iced tea or waffle or some other thing I’m munching or sipping on for breakfast (mostly), I again reconfirm my convictions…
That Ayn Rand was soo right.