The past week was torturous with many people traveling to see their loved ones. The combination of fuel scarcity and traffic is a lethal one.
With the number of people traveling you’ll think buses at the garage would fill up quickly. Waiting for buses to fill up can be exhausting, so it is not uncommon to have irate passengers.
There was tangible relief as the last space was taken. The uniform sigh was like the chorus of a song.
After the driver collected our fares and was about to drive off, a man stood beside my window begging for alms. I struggled to reach for my purse which was already well tucked away to avoid any incidences or stories that touch. Finally, I got it, took out a note and wanted to give it to the man but the bus was already moving. He tried to catch up with us while I begged the driver to slow down a little so I could give him the money.
“Throw it on the floor, he’ll pick it up”, one passenger shouted. And then another person said the same thing. I felt uncomfortable throwing money at him, so I asked a street hawker who was making a sale to please help me give him. He collected the money and as I turned around, I saw him give the man the money.
I became the subject of discussion for the next fifteen minutes.
“Madam, na wah for you o. Na begger nah. You for throw-way the money for ground for am.”
“If na me, even if the bus no move, I no go wan make e collect the money from my hand direct since na begger.”
“Shuooooo, you be wan give beggar money with respect again?!”
There were many more statements like these, filled with sarcasm and disdain.
I wish statements like these are not the norm, but sadly they are.
For the longest time, I have observed how we treat those who are perceived to be needy. A conceited person organizes a charity event to give to the underprivileged, and you wonder why they’re treated shabbily. You take aid to an orphanage and are unconcerned with how the items are packaged. We seem to be increasingly concerned with taking pictures and capturing the moment than we are with the dignity of the persons we’re giving to. They have to endure condescending gestures and insulting looks because they are somewhat dependent on us for some of their needs.
It’s true that some of these people can be overbearing, and some even feel entitled. Irrespective of who they are and how they behave, we should do well to preserve their dignity.
Dignity is about self-worth. It is the least humane thing to do. It is the right of a person to be valued. People should be respected for their own sake. Regard should not be tied to status, class, qualifications, or exposure.
This season more than ever is characterized by giving. So yes, giving is great, but in our giving, let us be mindful of, and preserve the dignity of those we’re giving to.