What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
I feel I’m privileged. I feel it’s an opportunity that I can share. Most often I have shared by helping out with specific needs. I bought clothes; I bought food; I bought things that were needed and I took it along with the non-material things like a big smile and a happy heart!
But recently I have faced the question of whether it is just better to give cash? The confusion came during a recent interaction with two little girls begging in the streets of Goa. I was on vacation there with some friends and we were shopping. These two little cute girls kept following us through the shops. I still remember their faces and their thin, under-nourished bodies. I thought of buying them food and I asked the elder one, if I can get breakfast for both. She replied saying she didn’t want food; she wanted money. I said I won’t give money. And her reply made me think about that stance I took again and actually change it. She said she wanted money so that she could buy food for her family at home. I usually don’t give money to people on streets because of so many reports that there have been on begging rackets in India and how it is slowly turning into an industry. And she could easily be lying as well. But something in her response tugged at me and I happily gave her the money. They took the money and went away and I saw the little one doing a happy dance :). Was I correct in giving the money? I would never know but I felt happy and I feel that is correct.
I am sure many of us have often been caught between our heart and mind when asked for money by strangers on the street and even by organisations – to give or not to give. Giving food, clothes and other material donations might bring the satisfaction of knowing what the money is used for. But once the money is out of my pocket, whether I buy something with it to give or whether I give the money directly; it not mine anymore. So I have decided to just do a simple test of listening to my heart (ignoring that little logical, voice in my head) and to not justify my action as a right or wrong one. To react on impulse. If I come across a person with inadequate warm clothes & begging on the street on a cold night, I find it difficult not to give some money. Other than money, sometimes I even get food and clothing. Some of them give out blessings when I hand them the money/food, which makes me feel happy from inside.
Many will debate that giving cash is not a good thing to do, because in some way it encourages begging which most of the times lead to organized begging. There is also the possibility that they might also misuse the money, but as I had already said above, once I give it away, it’s not my money anymore, anyway. So maybe the happiness that I received is all that makes it right.
“We only have what we give.”
― Isabel Allende
Most of the times, I am simply reaching out to a fellow human being who needs a little of something that I have. It is also a gesture to them that someone cares. So, for me, to give or not, is a matter of the heart– if it says YES I go ahead & do it. And I do it with a smile and the feeling of gratitude in my heart that I got this opportunity. At the same time I’m collecting the priceless smiles and blessings I receive!