Posted by Deevaan on 11 January 2005

these days every street corner in karachi has 4 or 5 year old kids standing on the corner begging for food or money...breaks my heart every time i see them barefoot begging in this unkind weather.... i guess that the recent onslaught is due to eid being round the want to look the other way but as a parent it is hard to say no to their innocent faces......i remember that about 10 years ago i was a designated driver and after dinner, i was to give a ride home to one of my father's oldest friends....oldest not only from baba's association with the gentleman but this guy was quite old (priase the lord he is alive and kicking at a ripe old age of 92) any case...i was at my best behavior and as i waited at the traffic light to turn right towards jinnah hospital where the old man lived....there was a lady with a baby begging at this light and she did her khuda kay vastay routine...i may not have looked at her at all or may have shoo-ed her the old man goes...."my son, a very long time...there was this prince who saw suffering all around him when he stepped out of his palatial environs for the very first time and he feels deep remorse upon being told that most people in the kingdom had little to eat and no roof over their head...he is disconsolate and broken much so that he decides to turn his back on the life of luxury...he bids farewell to his family and heads to the jungle and spends rest of his life making routine the suffering that everyone in the kingdom experienced every day .... this was prince sidhharta and once he reached enlightenment it inspired a whole movement that is now a religion"...
it must have been close to midnight and there was not a soul in sight...and i wondered what made the gentleman think on the lines where as i was oblivious of the lady asking me for money how many of us even give it a second thought that the person asking for help may not have had enough to eat...every day i keep saying to myself...not to judge them because often we do..some of them maybe con-artists but what about the baby in the can leave ambivalence about religion on one side and try to make a little change in their lives even for a day by paying for a single meal...
becoming sidhharta is a hard act to follow but little gestures can surely make a difference....


(latest on top)

deevaan said: -
i think both of you have good intentions at heart... my comment was just about children on these mean streets not the con artists that we are all aware of...a 5 year old is also capable of putting on an act but he/she reveals more about their innocence by acting the part than they know.. don't know if either of you are parents but i am and it is hard to be judgemental with a 5 year old... of course i know that the kid gets dropped off at the street corner every morning and "collected" way into the night... ni'at is a good way of looking at it.. but i say that we are cruel as a society... god bless you that you take the time to feed them but we need to be more charitable without being judgemental because it is not our job to hold a yardstick of judgement...
Zeus said: -
Deevaan and Naheed: I think we all think along the same lines here. Just make sure you don't get caught in the trap of doing the right thing for the wrong cause. :-) Let me share a small anecdote I personally experienced once and it always serves as a reminder when I give out charity...

This one goes back several years when I was in college here. I was coming back in a bus when as usual a beggar came on board at a stop, who had both his arms amputed, from the shoulder sockets down. His qameez had both arms but were obviously flappy and he was uttering the usual lines. Well some people gave him a few coins. A minute later the bus conductor (a rather huge guy I remember) came up behind him and (quite spontaneously) lifted up his qameez to reveal BOTH arms quite neatly tied to his body and tucked in his shalwar! :-)) Just imagine the look of embarassment and amazement on peoples' faces. After that I think he got a few slaps and was booted off the bus.

You're quite correct about the importance of "ni'at" Naheed, but remember that you will be judged both on intent and action, in combination of the two. ;-) The most common line I hear from these beggars is they need money to eat. So now I intentionally make it a point to tell them I'll give them food but no money. And you know what guys? 90% of the time, they agree and then I actually turn to the nearest source of food that I can find within a few feet or meters and I make the effort to buy them something. But 10% of the time, they refuse and just want the money -- they're the bad apples I am on the lookout for. I feel better knowing that my money has actually done some good rather than leave me wondering what it was actually used for later. But that's me. 99% aren't as nitpicky or "extreme" as I am in this case b/c I actually go out and then get them food, no matter what it costs, rather than giving them a rupee or two and sending them on their way. However, you can easily check them out by throwing them a trick question and making them reveal their true intentions. It's just a reality check, nothing more.

My point is that there is nothing wrong with being judgmental. There's a line between being judgmental and cynical. One shouldn't be cynical but if you're not judgmental, you risk doling out your money to such con artists and breeding more of them in society.
Naheed said: -
You have to look at each person as an individual case. Yes there are professional beggars out there (in every city of every country in the world) but I like to this that they are a minority. Lets try to be less cynical towards the world. There are a whole load of people out there who would rather earn money to feed themselves and there families but cant for what ever reason and have to lower there dignity and beg.

At the end of the say I think its important to remember that its your "neyat" (intentions) when your giving money which is most important . nahi? If we have been blessed by our creator then should we not be God Fearing enough to accept what we see?

Deevaan said: -
Appreciate your comment, zeus... several social issues are at hand here.. the debate is age-old and can drag on and go beyond the scope of this "special" blog... i am wondering what it was, that i wanted to communciate and it was simply this...that we go around driving in the city desensitized oblivious of people in need... the old man reminded me that looking at suffering could be a catalyst for change, no matter how small... as for being judgemental i agree with you but our society is charitable only to a certain extent... and yes there is a beggar mafia outthere but i say that each person has to have a personal take on the issue...
Zeus said: -
You have noble aspirations but you have to understand that not everyone thinks that way. Do you realize that it is actually this very nobility of yours in such matters that has created this whole problem in this society? It is understandable to feel what you do when you look at that baby, but you know what? They are deliberately having babies so people like you cough up money to give to them! The babies, through no fault of their own I accede, are being used as tools in this trade. Have you ever noticed or read the statistics on the begger-population here, how it has swelled over the years? Why are beggers increasing in hordes? Because people are giving them alms and the beggars very well know they can cash in on feelings such as yours. They are feeding off of your pity and piety and have evolved this into an organized, commercial enterprise. You must realize that in the effort to feed that one baby and not be judgmental, as you put it, you're actually fueling the fire. Sometimes in the interests of the greater good, one must step back and see the bigger picture and commit an act of seeming callousness and cruelty in order to fix a bigger problem. (Some texts refer to this phenomenon as an important characteristic of leadership, for your knowledge.) You need to tread a fine line where you do continue to give charity with caution but you must be judgmental whether you like it or not, else you will cause more damage than good in the longer run.

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