A center of economic and business growth, the city of Manila thrives in urbanization. People from different provinces and islands would come to the already populated city to find better opportunities for themselves and their families. With no initial income and a house to stay in, they would establish homes in lands that they don’t actually own. Formally, we call them “informal settlers.” In other words, “squatters.” They are the country’s “poor and needy” who would pray everyday for just a small, life-changing miracle.
Whenever I walk outside my University to look for an affordable place to eat, ragged old men and women, and children, would occasionally walk up to me to ask for a small sum of whatever’s inside my wallet. Sometimes, I comply. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes, I find it annoying. Sometimes, I feel sympathetic. Whenever I refuse, it’s because I wouldn’t have money left for me for the rest of the day. And when I feel annoyed, it’s because of the continuous pestering. A few minutes later, guilt would sink in.
Though a lot of times I wonder whether giving money or food to strangers would cause him/her to become dependent, relying only on what they get from begging. I wonder about their motives, whether or not the money they get goes to something useful, whether or not it goes to their families. I wonder if I am part of the reason that some beggars decide that their current situation is okay.
Years ago, that thought would not have occurred to me were it not for the friends and adults that advised me so. When I was younger, I was filled with the idea that, at all times, one must do what one feels is right. As I grew older, the world was suddenly filled with black veils with giant question marks painted on it. The world is big, mysterious, and ever changing. Society and culture is changing, and the way we perceive right and wrong is changing.
It’s difficult to know what is truly right and what is truly wrong. It may feel right the first time, but it may have wrong consequences later on. My heart brings me to help regardless of the possible consequences, but is following your heart necessarily right? Is there a RIGHT way to help without the latter becoming too dependent? Is the dependency justified?
Or maybe giving “help” isn’t just about giving or donating to the poor and needy?
“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” An old saying that rings true to the present. Education, I believe, is the key to remove such dependency. Education may be transferred from generation to generation, a continuous cycle of knowing how to live without the uncertainty from begging on the streets or waiting for a miracle. Education, as many have repeated, begins change.
A simple person like you and me is capable of learning and teaching. As we learn, we teach. As they learn, they teach, and so on and so forth. As the world is gradually changing, so are we. But we are given the power to adapt and learn again, teach and learn some more. The world is your blackboard.