I want you to watch the video first before reading on.
This video taught me a lot of things, so I thought I would share it with my readers here.
The people in this video
There are three people in this video – three kinds of people, that is.
First, of course, is the protagonist, or ‘hero’, who ties-up his leg and limps around begging.
Then there are all those people on the roads who give him alms.
Then, finally the District Collector (DC), who ignores our hero.
The attitude of these people
Let’s consider those people on the roads; we are a bit like them. What is their attitude? Why would they give alms to this ‘beggar’?
I know my thoughts when I see a beggar on the roads, so I will share them; I feel a few of you might identify with it, and some may have alternatives to it; but the basic attitude is still the same.
When I see a beggar on the road, I feel pity; I see his ‘handicap’, which is visible and clear in a majority, like blindness, or an obviously missing limb. I drop a few coins in his bowl, feeling thankful to God that I got this opportunity to do a ‘good deed’. A few coins in charity do not make me a poor man, and I am content that my sins have been ameliorated to some extent by this act.
Sometimes, I get incensed by a beggar who looks hale and hearty enough to work; but then, I rationalize, maybe it’s not just his physical handicap, but other challenges in his life because of which he is under-privileged.
I don’t really know, and couldn’t be bothered to investigate.
I am also aware that sometimes people tie-up their hands or legs to appear handicapped; and that sometimes children are kidnapped and subjected to some brutality, such as the eyes being gouged out or a limb torn-off, to make them eligible for your charity.
Here is a photo gallery of beggars around the world:
My attitude is of indifference; my sympathy is worth the coin that I put in his bowl, something that is within my means and does not ‘waste’ my time. Whether his handicap is real or fake does not enter my calculations, and I don’t waste time investigating. If I was required to do something more than this, I would resent it.
The District Collector
What about the DC? He is a proud man, no two ways about it! And we should be, too, for having a system in place which allows even people with serious handicaps like his, to have achieved something meaningful in life. He ignores the beggar at his gate – doesn’t even spare a glance. His thought is: I don’t care whether you have a game leg or you are faking it; go get yourself a job and live in dignity.
We don’t know the story back of this character, so we can conjecture; maybe he is from a privileged background, and had access to schools and books, which enabled him to attain this station in life.
But is it enough to be just given a chance? Do we still have to work on those? Is it a fact that a majority of us get some chances, but we squander them through our bad attitudes or other ‘handicaps’? His handicap made him strong in mind; his determination and will was much stronger than many of us able-bodied people; that had far more to do with his achievements than the chances or privileges he had. That was my conclusion of this man.
As for our hero, the ‘beggar’ – he starts off as someone who plays on people’s indifference and sympathy (a peculiar combination that we see commonly in our country) to earn some money. He probably earns more money doing this than working hard at some factory or doing day labour.
In the end, he realizes that his modus operandi can earn him a few dollars, but he will never get the honour and dignity that the other guy with a real game leg has. He finally realizes that a life of dignity is far more important than the one he is leading; so he throws away his crutch – symbolizing that he now doesn’t want to lead this life of a beggar any more.
Here, I cannot help but summarize everything; I believe we each have these three characters within us. As people on the road, other people’s handicaps – real, imagined, fake, assumed – have no importance to us – we are satisfied throwing a few coins or a few words of sympathy. We have our own lives to lead, so if somebody else is crying because he is not able to achieve something, we pay scant heed. We know there are a lot of people, who always provide excuses for failing, and we merely provide sympathy, or even do their work for them, imagining we are helping them; in reality, we are only reinforcing the effect of that person’s handicap.
If you really want to help another person, make him more capable; help him achieve something which will give him pride and joy; don’t just throw money at him.
Like the ‘hero’, the ‘beggar’, we also tie ourselves up and walk around with crutches. It could be an illness – a migraine, or something more serious. Or it could be lack of money, or education, of talent, or of luck. Each of these is an assumed or fake handicap – and we walk around with them, begging for sympathy.
And that is exactly what we get: indifference and fake sympathy. People around us will never tell us to thrown away our crutches and struggle the way the DC had in his life. They know we are not going to listen.
It’s only when we see another person who had an even greater handicap than we have, but who still went on to achieve great honour and dignity through hard work, that we ourselves can get inspired to throw away our crutches and work for our own emancipation.
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