Wednesday, August 09, 2006

To give or not to give..

..that is the question!

The closer you get to India and the more beggers you find, that's a general geography rule..

As i was walking clockwise around the Potala palace with the pilgrims this morning, and watching the beggers knowingly sitting along the way, i was thinking again this eternal question.

Being the cheap monster that you know, my general opinion on the subject is to not give of course.. Giving, to me, means encouraging mendicity, and in these countries, mendicity has become an institution.. "no one comes to begging by choice" you'll argue.. well i'm not sure..
First many sadhus and monks live essentialy off of mendicity, and they do it by choice.. But more seriously, mafias use the fact that mendicity is so well accepted, to send poor kids to beg for them, sometimes breaking their arms and legs to make them look more pitiful.. Amongst these, of course, you also have the "real poor independant ones"...

Anyway, the interesting part is to see that here people do give, and to understand why.. why they encourage the system and why it has become such an institution..
The general philosophy is simply that giving is more important than receiving.. In hindu/buddhist cultures, unlike in the christian based western world, what matters is not the impact our actions will have upon others, but the personal philosophical value of an individual; a person who gives feels a higher personal value, no matter what he gives or who he gives it to..
When i refuse to give to a begger, people look down on me, not so much because i'm a rich tourist too cheap to help a poor guy, but simply because i am not noble enough to give.

The bottom line is that, in spite of the terrible impact it has on mendicity, it is also the same underlying idea that shapes their incredible sense of hospitality...

So to give or not to give?...

Sunrise on Lhasa.. notice the beautiful pink mountains in the background!

No comments: