Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When The Mob Becomes Violent

Today I was accosted by someone begging for money. I know... big deal, right? It's not an unusual occurrence anywhere in the world, especially here in the Philippines.

Begging is actually big business in Manila. Often small children are forced to work the streets by a 'begging syndicate,' and adults keep a watchful eye from a distance before confiscating the kids' proceeds. This is one of the lowest acts of humanity I can think of.

The person who approached me today, however, was not a child. He was a perfectly able-bodied, 17 or 18 year-old youth. He chased after me shouting, "My friend! My friend! You give me coins!" If you notice the language, he wasn't exactly asking... more demanding.

This is a mentality that I will never understand.

Yes it's unfortunate that there are people in the world who struggle to make a decent living for themselves and their families. But I firmly believe that tossing a few occasional coins is not going to solve their underlying problem.

Indeed, handouts encourage people to continue living on handouts instead of developing skills, working hard, and pulling themselves up from poverty. This makes the situation worse, not better.

It drives me crazy to see someone who clearly HAS the capability to make an honest living, yet refuses to do so... such as the young man who approached me today.
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