Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Beggars Can't Be Choosers
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.