Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Beggars Can't Be Choosers

As I sit here in a comfortable internet cafe I am interrupted approximately every 5 minutes by a street urchin whinging for money. It's a real shame, but unless you want to give to every single last one of them you quickly learn to avoid eye contact and to answer their pitiful pleas for money for their mum's medicine with a gruffly barked 'NO!'. Any tinge of weakness and they are stuck on you like glue until you cough up. I had thought that living in a developing country would deepen my concern for the world's poor. I'd thought I would develop my compassion, and perhaps even decide I'd like to work full-time for a charity in the future. No such luck, I'm afraid. I have become a cold-hearted bitch. Yes, I carry a stock of small change to give out, and yes, I care. But overriding that is my overwhelming desire for poor people to just piss off and stop bothering me. OK, lady, you have five kids and no money. Well, why they hell do you have five kids then? Would you like to support MY children? No? Well, neither would I like to support your snot-nosed brats you bore without sparing the slightest thought to trivial matters such as: Will I have to send my family out to beg on the streets every day? Will they contract terrible diseases through eating rubbish? Will my children have any future, or will they live like animals? etc.
I must say, however, thank god it isn't as bad here as India. Lauren and I always say after the hell that was the beggars in India, we can handle anything. In Delhi, people throw themselves on you, praying to you and kissing your feet, which is rather hard to get away from if you don't feel like kicking them in the head. And unlike here, even if you gave to them they didn't then go away. They asked for more, more, more. The lepers knocked on our taxi windows in the heavy, congested traffic, if we tried to give to them we found, more often than not, they had no fingers with which to take the money.
What's to be done? I've no idea. Everyday I think about it, and I never have the faintest idea. If I give a dollar to every poor person I come across, it won't make the slightest difference to their lives beyond the moment. If I give to a charity my money will be distributed to it's well-paid employees before it eventually (perhaps) reaches it's destination. Even when I donate my own time to fund-raising, as my friends and I did for our Habitat trip to Sri Lanka, the guilt never, ever fades. The guilt for being a Western person, the guilt for having opportunities, the guilt for my over-consumption. More and more I find myself thinking: it's the way of the world. Some people are below, some people are on top. People below me think I'm rich, people above me think I'm poor. It's tough, but in this world we can like it, or lump it.

true, it's very sad. but then, i come from a place where there is no mass poverty, and every low down slacking fucker lives off of welfare, produces offspring to get more welfare, basically has to do nothing, and still bitches about it.
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