Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Spare Some Change?

On my way out of the video store, I heard the question "Spare some change?" I looked right and there was this old, bearded hippie sitting on the pavement. I replied with my usual "No, sorry." This has always been my reply in such situations, whether it is here, back home, old man, woman, little kid, poor Asian workers that sweep the streets in the morning, etc.

The question is not whether to give or not, but whom to give and in what situations. I could only imagine how desparate they could be, but I don't think it solves the problem if I give out like that because:

1. It engraves in them the culture of taking the easy way out. Instead of finding a better, permanent solution, they'd just sit on the pavement and ask for money.

2. By not giving out, it puts more pressure on them, and the pressure is eventually (hopefully) shifted to their guardians/employers.

I know this is a sensitive issue and hard to explain. In kuwait at traffic lights, many people generously give out money to those Asian workers every single morning. I know how they're being taken advantage of by their employers, and I know what that 1/4 KD means to them.

Remember about a month ago when they went on a strike and rioted at their embassies and employers? Now think with me. Imagine for some time, people refrained from giving out any money. Theoretically, that angre would've mounted a while ago and their issue would've been brought up earlier, which would eventually help solve their situation. Makes sense?

I'd rather give out money or goods for organizations, mosques, churches, etc., which in turn distribute it out to the needy (hopefully) than give it out randomly to random people.

14 comments:

Sloth said...

Nice topic..
for me.. i sometimes give and sometimes i don't and i beat myself the rest of the day..

i totally agree that their problems are not solved and might be aggrivated by handing them money.. however, I always say that no one likes being humulated and belittiled by asking for money .. so at least i can relieve thier misery for a short time.. and that makes me happy and i hope that god rewards me and them :)

Exceer said...

agree, agree, agree
I sometimes and only sometimes give some people lying around the streets half naked or starving to death, a pound or so, cos i feel sorry for them and cos i look like an arab and i want them to know that arabs are generous (cos they do read the torn or trashed papers u know and who knows what they think of arabs)
my friends think i am unrealistic and they dont care about ur race or anything they just want the money, maybe it was my way in avoiding the scary look in peoples face, so i did it mostly around 9/11 :P and thats that..

رشيد الخطار said...

جنديف
أتفق مع أغلب ما ذكرته إلا موضوع المساكين الهنود اللي بالكويت..
يا أخي منطق .. عقل.. لنفترض حتى أنه يأخذ راتبه.. بس إنك تعطي إنسان عشرين دينار وتقوله روح نظف الدائري الخامس بعز القيظ.. حالة غير إنسانية..
لكن يضل أني ما أعطيهم فلوس.. مو كلهم.. بعضهم يأتي ينظف الأرض اللي يم سيارتك .. ويخزك.. هذا ما أعطيه.. بس أبذل جهد لأعطي الآخر اللي واقف وراه قاعد ينظف وما كلمني ولا تملحس..

مرة واحد فيهم مسكين ماسك 200 فلس كلهم من فئة 10 فلوس.. يبي يشتري أكل من سمبوسك الشامية حقه أهو وربعه.. هذا كسر خاطري فعشيتهم.. لا تشوف المسكين.. تقول يايله ولد من كثر الوناسة

اللي غلط نعطيهم صج، الأطفال اللي يبيعون كلينيكس وماي ورد على الإشارة.. لو بيدي أركبهم السيارة وأوديهم المخفر.. إلى أن يصيدون الحيوان اللي قطهم يبيعون..

موضوعك يستفز الواحد أنه يكتب جنديف

moe-isha said...

jandeef: i used to think the same, i had the exact arguement... i used to hear all these stories about they make a lot of many every day but i decided to give whoever asks me and whenever they ask me only because i will never know who really needs the money, and because to actually sit on the streets and beg people for money seriously.. how do i say this... it has to do with dignity, their stepping on their pride and asking complete strangers for what they can part with, and most of the time like u said its barely a quarter of a dinar. it breaks my heart every time i see them sitting under the scorchin sun, who knows about the families they have left behind to come to kuwait only to be shocked with the injustice they are faced with here... and even people living in western countries, you never know the hell they've been through... and its not like me not giving them money is going to change anythin... i dont know it just breaks my heart to see a grown man/woman/ child begging .. we shouldnt not give them money.. we should give them their rights and treat them like human beings!

Drunk'n'Gorgeous said...

Hello there! Interesting topic. Here's my input. Not giving them money is almost like judging them in a way, I think. Can your conscience bare it if you were wrong about someone? What if your few coins were the difference between life and death for these people? I'm not talking about the poor Bengali workers who haunt the traffic lights in Kuwait. I'm talking about beggars in general.

Yes, it is bad to encourage them but what if they truly had no way out? Permanent or not, what if begging was their last option? True, nobody owes anybody anything, save for their immediate family, and close friends, but I think we owe to each other as human beings to look out for each other. After all, it's just a matter of chance that I'm in a comfortable home rather than out on the mean streets.

I understand where you're coming from in thinking the way that you do that if we don't give out money, they pressure whoever is in charge, and things get done. Sadly, things haven't "been done" for awhile now so I think giving or not giving has no effect whatsoever.

I do remember the riot awhile back but I also remember nothing else being done about it. Unless I am mistaken. Anyways, as I said before, interesting topic. Take care, yeah? Laters!

Jandeef said...

Wow long comments :D Here we go.

Sloth,
It is a dilemma between short-term long-term solution. The problem is that everytime you solve their problem for the short-term, the long-term solution gets pushed further away.
--------
F,
I tend to agree with your friends. To them, a pound is a pound whomever it comes from.
--------
Rasheed,
As to their 20 KD salary, no doubt it is inhumane, let alone not paying them. What I'm talking about here is more of a general arguement, under which the street workers are only one example.

You described the scene very accurately about the ones who stay close to the cars waiting for tips. I tend to believe that the more we give randomly, the more of those who wait for tips we create.

You reminded me of once when I took my car for a wash at the station. It was a summer afternoon. I went to get me a soda from the vending machine, and I bought 5 more and gave it out to the workers. In a matter of minutes, my car was so shiney.

So people, I still give out randomly, but I tend to keep it at a minimum.
-----------
Moe-Isha,
It is indeed heart breaking. A dilemma I have to go through everytime i hear "spare some change?" But again, I believe in the big picture, with a few exceptions.
----------
D&G,
It's unfortunate that the saying "الحسنة تخص والسيئة تعم" holds valid in almost every situation. Yes, there are some of them who need those few coins as a life saver, but once you think of it like that you open a door that doesn't close. Both giving out or to hold hoping the pressure will shift, both are hard choices. It just depends on how we juggle between them, and go for the one that we think brings their problem closer to a solution.

I think after the riots the company paid them. Regardless of that, at least it was finally brought to the spot light. You've got the media covering it (I read about many strikes/riots following that first one), columnists writing about it, organizations talking about it, and international criticism pouring in. Talk about shifting the pressure!

Bloo said...

wel it depends on the mood.. believe it or not, when i am hyper..'i am always more or less' i act weird.

two days ago, i went on the long trip up to jbal wara nbk branch, and there i saw an old woman on the entrance and i suspected she wil ask me for money.. i was thinking : i really need da3wa.., so i gave her ten kd.. and she said to me a beautiful da3wa.. i felt so happy.. i dont know was i being good, or was i using her? ..i dont know, but thats just one of those days i actually had money and afforded giving it away.

illusion said...

God says don’t humiliate the poor, and I think like many have already said it must be humiliating for them to beg. I personally don’t even like to ask for 50 fils from friends so imagine this person standing all day long under the blazing hot sun for whatever change one can give them, and not to mentioned the nasty looks they get from the passing people.

As for Asian workers going on strike, I think the real reason they don’t do it is because they are scared of being deported, do you know how fast they can be replaced? If anyone is to blame its us, because we know that their salaries are just 20 or 25 KD a month yet all we say is “ wee masakeeen” those poor people. Why don’t we make a big fuss and say where are their human rights? Or should we just sit around and expect their embassy and government to do something about it.

If something is wrong and you know its wrong shouldn’t you try to make a difference by trying to make it right? I say the next time you see someone begging and you don’t know if they really need or not, if you have just give it to them at least you did a good deed.

Jelly Belly said...

If you gave him the money...he'll probably buy some beer with it...sad reality but most of them do!

Jandeef said...

Vintage,
Hmmm if your aim was the prayer. Then I don't know how that'll count up above. But as illusion said above, you did a good dead regardless.

Illusion,
You bring up interesting point. It all depends on what you think brings them closer to a solution. In other words, what if you think doing them a good deed is putting the pressure on them? For the Asian workders' case, think about the big picture, not the individual level. Sometimes I think of it as every 1 KD I give to a worker, it translates into, at least, 1 KD to his opportunistic employer. If the worker isn't complaining and living off give aways on the street, then no one's happier than the employer. Yes they're scared to be deported, and that's an unfortunate fact of life. But who said life is just? In every struggle, there's always a group that takes the hit for the rest. It is sad. It is unfortunate, but it's reality.

JB,
Hehe yea happens alot. When I first came to the US, I was standing outside a 7-eleven. A hippie asked me for a dollar. I gave him 5 bucks thinking he'd buy himself a snack or a hot dog. He went in and got himself a pack of cigarettes.

Just for the record, I'm not basing my arguement on the 7-Eleven story =)

Shurouq said...

Such a provocative post.. I haven't read anything like it in a long time.
Well done, jandeef

I can relate to your rebellious ideas, but I don't see why we should set any rules here, whether to give or not to give..
It always depends on the situation.

I usually follow my hearts on this (whatever that means) :)

Jandeef said...

Shurouq,
Yea no rules needed. My rebellious ideas really come from following my own heart too =)

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