On Giving

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This is the debateably one of the toughest struggle the average man wages inside of himself at the sight of a beggar: To  give or not to give? Why should I give to others? Why should I  forego a specific need to help another?  Why can’t they work? Why won’t the government provide an enabling environment for people to work and earn a  living? Why, why, why?

It is okay to feel this way, to feel even the slightest bit of frustration at the sight of another man begging without pride. It is fine to want him to work hard–afterall hardwork is ‘always’ crowned with success. It is a normal human instinct to feel just a bit wary of parting with your ‘sweat’ to a total stranger. It is all fine because we are human–just like the beggar out there.

A few days ago I asked a group of people of their thoughts on giving a helping hand. I asked if they gave; to what degree; if they segregated recepients of the fruit of their labour; and their general feelings about giving to the poor. I received answers which I can only term as ‘human’, not because I shared their sentiment, but because I understood. The one thing almost every answer had in common was the need to give to a specific set of people–people whom the society have so graciously bestowed upon the honour of being termed “those in need”. Of course by our standard there are those who need more than others–those who have no means of helping themselves–the orphans. And so I wonder, what about the rest of the world out there who really cannot fend for themselves? Should they be left without help simply because they lack the privilege of having a beggar’s crest upon their breast?

But I understand. I understand how difficult it is to give in a world as perverse as ours. Why it may seem too much of a trouble to part with gold, or help a man who may or may not be out to rip you off your money. Truly we live in dire times where people have mastered the mummers trick, they put on a shade and become something and someone they are not. It is a world filled with people who have sold their pride and integrity for a few pennies. People who deliberately put their children in self degrading positions to draw sympathy from others. People without self respect. It is a morally decadent world, we recognise this as people and so that part of us which yearns to help slowly shrinks away until there is nothing left.

A  couple of months ago I realised a certain shift in me. Normally everytime I walked past a beggar–whether of the physically challenged or healthy variety– without giving something of my lose change, I would feel this wave of guilt wash over me. Often times I would double back just to make it go away. One day I came to the awareness that the person, the one who would feel guilt was gone.  She just didn’t care anymore if a bantu was filled with money or not. She would walk past beggars–rows of them and not bat a lash while walking by. She would assess people lined up seeeking for alms….she’d say to herself “he has his two legs and has lost only an arm. He can work. Or she’s absolutely healthy, but lazy”. She was me, me at my deepest core. I felt ashamed. I felt I had betrayed myself. I felt I had lost my humanity. I had gone from this person who would help first and ponder later if the ‘beggar’ was genuine(if he were of the healthy variety) to some sort of analyst. I wanted her back. So I went on a soul searching mission, then I realised a hidden truth: I lost myself the moment I began to think like everyone else. I had traded my identity and replaced it with the socially acceptable standard. I had forgotten what it felt like to be at the receiving end of the giving pool. I had redefined myself and in the process lost my way.

The day we cease to think about one another, is the day we start to lose our humanity.

There are undeniably people out there who have felt or are feeling what I felt.  Who think they have buried some part of their soul. It is okay to feel that way– it is your humanity speaking, struggling to be freed of it’s chains. Let it out.

So why give knowing there are dishonest people out there? There may be dishonest people, but there are also those who really do need a hand somewhere in the mix. Do it for them. Why can’t healthy able bodied men work hard to earn a living? Anybody can fall into a situation like this. It isn’t always their fault, there is a reason unemployment is defined. Besides hardwork doesn’t always pay. Some people are just the unfortunate product of a failed system.
If I gave to every beggar out there I’d be broke in a heartbeat. The reason you work is not farfetched. It is to provide for yourself and others in need. So when next you earn that income, make provisions for the less privileged. You must not give to everyone you see, but give with the aspiration that someday you wish you could help everyone.

The world we live in makes it difficult to do good to others, especially when it is always taken for granted and you end up suffering for it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do good anyway. It’s what makes you different from everyone else: Your ability to stay sane in an insanity filled world. Your ability to keep your humanity in place when everything you stand for–truth, integrity and dignity– seems lost. The strength to still believe in the inherent goodness in the darkest part of man’s heart. To live with the knowledge that your good deeds was never really for man,  but for your creator.

I have decided to walk down the path that has faith in people. That choses to believe that there are good people out there who may look healthy but are truly in need of help. I have chosen to give every man who asks for alms the benefit of doubt. I have chosen to be positive about humanity. Can you do the same?

It is said that beggars will never cease from our midst, so give anyway. You may end up meeting someone who really needs it; but if you don’t, you can trust karma to catch up with those who are dishonest and if you are lucky, God will let you watch. So give to all who are in need without reproach as far as is within your means, and remember that givers never lack.

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I leave you with Mother Teresa’s Do It Anyway and hope it insipires you as much as it did me when I came upon it some 6(or was it 8) years ago;
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self centred. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others may destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will  never be enough. Give the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. 
      

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35 thoughts on “On Giving

  1. yemi September 28, 2014 / 11:47 am

    have a question to ask your highness..
    Friday I had a meeting somewhere in gra ikeja..as I was leaving around d Muslim prayer period heading towards the police training centre I saw beggars running both blind, lame etc and I asked what was happening.

    the person driving said they are running to beg in a mosque where the northerners worship while bypassing a mosque(a big one) occupied by southern muslims.

    so would you give such people alms knowing they discriminate on who to beg from?

    Like

    • uju September 29, 2014 / 12:28 pm

      You worry yourself with inconsequential things. If we keep fishing for what the other is doing wrong, and validate our reactions by the actions of others, than the ‘love’ mandate we’ve been given will be impossible to keep.

      Like

  2. Lizzieebunoluwa September 25, 2014 / 4:08 pm

    *musing sigh*….there you go again, expressing the unspoken thoughts I struggle with.

    This line in particular resonated deeply, “The strength to still believe in the inherent goodness in the darkest part of man’s heart. To live with the knowledge that your good deeds was never really for man,  but for your creator.”

    So forthright!. Somehow, I think God is pleased with the answers you’ve provided.

    Bless your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju September 25, 2014 / 4:29 pm

      Bless your heart too dear. I love it when we realise that our we aren’t so different from one another–in thoughts, and our lives 🙂 I am glad you found the answers you were looking for here.

      Like

      • yemi September 25, 2014 / 7:18 pm

        ..hope it’s my answers that GOD is pleased with..lols

        Like

        • uju September 26, 2014 / 5:08 am

          I’m sure he’s pleased with yours too 😀

          Hi old friend, I’d begun to wonder where you went.

          Like

          • yemi September 26, 2014 / 6:01 am

            ..thats refreshing to know..

            I have been around..supposed to be occupied o..but unfortunately I have become “lazy”..lols..

            hope you good and do invite me for tgif things..

            Like

            • uju September 26, 2014 / 10:12 am

              I should organize a house party here then:)

              Like

        • Lizzieebunoluwa September 26, 2014 / 7:02 am

          *chuckles*…fishing for compliments Yemi? You better don’t hold your breath….Lol

          Like

    • yemi September 26, 2014 / 7:39 am

      ..hmmm Ebun where has the ‘share the love’ gone to..i would go on national TV and hold my breathe with an inscription only Ebun can make me stop..

      Like

      • yemi September 26, 2014 / 10:25 am

        @Uju hope it’s not e-parry o..would suggest you close down the top floor of the Chinese restaurant on adeola-odeku for me after all what a man can do a woman can do better..

        Like

        • uju September 26, 2014 / 12:19 pm

          😀 Maybe Lizze will help

          Like

          • Lizzieebunoluwa September 26, 2014 / 6:58 pm

            Hehehe…Have fun doing that Yemi…let’s see how long you last holding your breath.

            @Uju- Lizzie has been drafted? Lols… You better don’t hold your breath you pipu.

            Like

            • yemi September 26, 2014 / 8:07 pm

              @Ebun hmmmmm..cant fit to shout..

              Like

            • uju September 26, 2014 / 8:22 pm

              Thought I’d give the young man a measure of hope 😀

              Like

      • yemi September 26, 2014 / 3:12 pm

        don’t disappoint the women folks..its high time women started taking guys out and paying for dates, giving a dude transport fare/fuel money for visiting them etc..

        after all we should start practicing the gender equality we preach..lols

        Like

        • uju September 26, 2014 / 8:22 pm

          Women take guys out and pay for dates sometimes, but I don’t know of any guy who would accept transport fare and fuel money from a woman; do you? I’m sure we’ll prick some egos with that.

          Like

      • yemi September 27, 2014 / 12:03 am

        I should collect the fuel money..inshort I would see such woman everyday and take her to the most expensive restaurant as long as she paying and refueling..lols..

        Like

  3. yemi August 15, 2014 / 7:07 am

    funny you..i passed through ikeja recently (the general hospital area) and while in traffic had two beggers come to me one on each day.

    the first a young woman/lady came begging for money that her daughter is in the general hospital dying without saying what’s wrong which is what a desperate person in that condition would do and was so calm also.

    the second was a guy waving what am sure was an inconsequential old and most likely someone’s receipt which I was trying so hard to see what was written on it lols..but he just kept waving it so fast and my head could not match it’s movement so I gave up.

    When these incidents occurred I was like “what would Uju do o”..lols..but I definately knew this people where exploiters so nothing for them.

    Like

    • uju August 15, 2014 / 7:58 am

      Lol @What would Uju do 😀

      Like

      • yemi August 15, 2014 / 2:04 pm

        yes o..those r 1 of the tots I have nw whenever them “beggers” come around. tgif..

        Like

  4. mindsorandom August 11, 2014 / 1:22 am

    Yes to instinct. Yipee! I have attained cool status. Doing the happy dance. 😀

    Like

    • uju August 11, 2014 / 6:38 am

      Cool. Let’s start a club! I have the perfect idea for our T-shirt design 😀

      Like

  5. mindsorandom August 6, 2014 / 11:30 pm

    It’s something I struggle with. Sometimes I walk away and feel guilty and other times I just give and I figure my mind’s at rest right, that’s good enough for me.
    There are also situations where you have to put guilt aside and realize that you are being taken advantage of. Yes, you can’t always tell but sometimes you do know and you have to draw the line.

    When someone comes everyday with the same story of how they lost their wallet. The least you could do is remember the faces of the people you swindled yesterday or at least go to a different side of town or even be creative with the lie( not like i condone lying o). Sometimes not giving is the best thing.

    Like

    • uju August 7, 2014 / 5:29 am

      Your second paragraph cracked me up big time 😀 But I agree with you. Sometimes I get that feeling swindlers expect you to be stupid twice.
      Like I told the Yemi earlier: follow your guts. Instinct isn’t always right, but it’s less often wrong.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mindsorandom–cool name and cooler shoes.

      Like

      • yemi August 8, 2014 / 3:31 pm

        I think following instincts is much more better #smiles#

        Liked by 1 person

      • uju August 10, 2014 / 1:32 pm

        Glad we agree on this 🙂

        Like

  6. yemi July 17, 2014 / 8:41 am

    Lols..the think about what he would use your money for is for the people you know would use the money for drugs in the various form and those with spiritual intent.

    Am not against giving only if it’s for the actual less privileged which includes the actual beggars not the ones on lagos island with various sick report and carrying drip all around.

    Every time or generation has its form of insanity so what would Jesus do would make you decide if to encourage certain people who obviously can learn a trade or vocation to be lazy or actually help the ones in genuine need.

    Like

    • uju July 17, 2014 / 9:25 am

      In essence, let each be guided by his spirit.
      I like where you’ve taken this 🙂

      Like

  7. yemi July 16, 2014 / 10:25 pm

    I am not saying we shouldn’t give even those who says they are stranded, tell them you would pay their fare and see the immediate response. Some would make the mistake of meeting you the next day saying the same story.

    Well homeless shelters ain’t popular here in Nigeria, but we do have charities and fatherless/motherless homes and also the special needs home.

    It’s also important to think about where or what your money is being used for. I would rather give someone I know would use the money positively than for drugs or other negative things.

    The most important is you remember “what would Jesus do” in the situation you are in.

    Like

    • uju July 17, 2014 / 5:30 am

      Yeah I’d like to think ‘what would Jesus do’ as many others would, but then the world was probably a much saner place when he lived. People didn’t think begging was a career path you know.

      And why should we pay so much attention to what the money is used for? For all we know those beggars on the road end up giving their take to some beggar pimp(I’ve heard this happens), when afterwards give them food to eat and pushes them back on the streets again. It’s like some association of sort has been formed.
      So if we keep thinking Oh he’s going to give my money to that guy, then we’d likely never part with it. Same way people have trouble giving to churches because they worry the pastors will end up buying jets for themselves.

      I’m not referring here to those who would rather milk you dry, I’m talking of those who are likely–unfortunately–stuck amongst the milkers. Should we think more of them, then all these questions that pip in our head everytime we see someone in need will go away.Personally though, I like to give people the benefit of doubt. Take today, if I see you tomorrow yarning the same story, no more for you.

      Like

  8. yemi July 16, 2014 / 9:04 pm

    Lols..the truth is even tho we have beggars yet still many have decided to beg as a form of making quick money.

    I used to give back then and when I couldn’t I would always wish I did but later that feeling left because I realise many would actually learn a trade or vocation if we stop giving them money. Besides many are cons henceforth the word corporate beggars.

    Am not saying one shouldn’t give but one has to be careful also in giving and you would always know within you the ones who needs alms. Also, there are ngo’s or homeless shelters you can also do your giving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju July 16, 2014 / 9:34 pm

      I get your point Yemi.But do you ever feel reluctant to help out a person who claims to be stranded? A good number of people who ask for transport fare just say that to make some cash for themselves(I’ve come to notice), while a few really are stranded.
      Now if we continued to pay a lot of attention to those who make a sports out of begging, then we deny people who really are in need of our resources the opportunity to get help.

      I’m not trying to advocate for giving everyone and encourage corporate begging, far from it. All I’m saying is that one needs to bear in mind that there are honest people out there–few yes, but not any less honest. If we think about this positive more, then we’ll think less about what our money has been used for after giving it out.

      P.S I don’t know of any Shelter here in Nigeria; I doubt we have any. That’s something I’ve been thinking of lately.

      Thanks for your input 🙂

      Like

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