Begging (is) the Question (Part 2)

This is my second post on this subject. See my first here.

So how exactly are you supposed to deal with the problem of beggars?

As I see it, there are two angles on that. First, there’s the problem of beggars as a group, and there’s the problem of the individual beggar.

The thing is, when we think about the problem of beggars, we’re usually (but probably not consciously) thinking of the first. It’s almost certainly what Nneka Onyeka (a commenter) had in mind when she suggested involving community leadership. And it’s definitely an important aspect.

But the problem of the individual beggar – how to respond to the particular one you run into on a particular day – is, I think, more pressing, because he or she is right there. In your face.

The easiest response, of course, is to either ignore the beggar or to give alms. Both are socially acceptable, quick and not overly demanding. And both ask little of us, either.

And that’s the other thing that bothers me about the single beggar: he reminds me how just how easy it is to miss the human in another being.

Does that happen to you too?

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