"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Saturday, October 30, 2010

To give or not to give.


Photo: Dried fish vendor getting rich during Fiestang Apu

In every country I've been to, there are beggars. The streets of neither the richest nor the poorest countries are spared this simple fact - there are always people in need.

The worst part of the poor here in the Philippines is that I speak the language. When beggars come up to me in Paris or even in the slums of Istanbul, I don't understand a word they say, making it much easier for me to continue walking without even acknowledging their existence. Here however, in the Philippines, the beggars come up to me pulling at my sleeves and speaking my mother's tongue, a language I only speak at home and to my family. How can I ignore a child, hair bleached a golden brown from the unrelenting sun, as he calls me big brother? How can the heart not be moved by an old woman, face leathered from weathering such tumultuous times, calling out to me, "son?"

It has always been against my nature to give my hard-earned money to beggars. How do I tell them that I'd rather not water the weeds of poverty? I'm torn because I cannot in good conscience perpetuate the problem, yet, neither can I just stand there and watch my brothers and grandmothers starve.

I wish against everything I have ever been told that I can one day tell my brethren as they ask for the loose coins in my pocket that I'm working toward a future that they may not see but will one day come.