Street Beggars, an everlasting occupation

Begging is a normal site for all big cities. Years pass by, economies rise and fall, traffic lanes change direction, streets get renamed, the faces aren’t the same but begging remains a part of the city’s landscape.

It is sometimes out of pity, empathy or guilt that one gives to the needy. It can cause frustration when the needy become pushy or too insistent on receiving some charity.

The concerns that most people have when deciding whether to give money or not to street beggars are the following:

1. If this person would make some effort and find a job he wouldn’t have to humiliate himself and I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about ignoring him as I pass by.
2. This person does not deserve the money I have honestly earned when I know it will go towards alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
3. If I help him today, this person will still be back tomorrow asking again. I don’t want to teach him or encourage him to continue begging.
4. I wonder what upbringing this person had? I bet his poverty is his own fault. Life’s hard, tough luck.

It is even more frustrating when beggars insist and continue to ask long after you have already said no. In my case when they grab onto your arm and don’t let go. I feel annoyed at having to say no all the time even when I do have some spare change. Why is this?

Could it be that we are all programmed to help others as the bibles tell us to? Do we feel guilty about lying and saying we don’t have money when a few cents here or there would not necessarily break our budget? I sometimes don’t know how to react with beggars or buskers. I think that if I give them charity then I will teach them that it works and therefore reinforce this act. On the other hand, if I don’t give them any money and everyone else does the same, how will this person eat tonight?

It has forever been an awkward situation for me to deal with. Life isn’t what it seems on television after all. A while after my frustration about being physically nagged to give money had passed I wondered how many “Nos” and how much desperation one man would go through before resorting to physical contact. I also wondered about this person’s mental health. If he is in bad mental health then why isn’t he being looked after?

For all the stress I have with my personal life, I know it would never compare to the stress of someone who’s occupation is receiving one yes or 1 dollar after 50 Nos and disappointing looks…every day of the year.