This is going to sounds like the typical rant against “today´s” society and how morals and ethics have lost their value in our current world. Sorry!
Day after day we see people on the streets begging for money. We kind of hardly care, right? I mean…we can walk right past people on the streets without dashing an eye… or without giving a flying sh*t…if you want to say it in a more explicit way…
Today I met my best friend, Pablo Quevedo, to have a chat while drinking a coffee and the conversation led us to this topic while we were sitting in a warm comfortable pub. We later saw a homeless guy begging on the streets while it was pouring. We were just saying “f*ck…it´s so cold and rainy! Poor guy…!” when a lady brought him a warm coffee. Touché.
We walked past him to get to the shop and came back with some croissants. Did we feel solidary and accomplished? Nah…not really…
Without wanting to sound like a champion or try to “throw flowers over myself” like we say in Spain I think I might be doing my part. I have worked in 3 NGO´s and created my own solidary project in my city, Santander, which is still up and running and in which we bring food, drinks and blankets to homeless people during the night. But most importantly we talk with them for some time and let them feel listened to. I´ve also donated 480+ euros to give a girl in Oruro, Bolivia, the chance to go to school and get her meds for these last 2 years.
I really don´t do this to make people say stupid things like “wow, that´s nice of you”…because it´s not. It´s just HUMAN to do these things. I do it because I feel that if I can spend 20 euros on a night out on beers I can probably also spend 2-3 euros on helping someone…. I don´t even tell people that I send money to this little girl, Lizbeth, in Bolivia…this is the first time I do it outside of my closest inner circle of friends…
And nobody can say that I´m rich and and can afford it and they can’t. People who know me know how “broke” I am and how I never have much on me. If I can do it, ANYONE can.
Again, like so many things, it’s just a matter of priorities. Which are yours?
I´m not saying you should stop buying things you like, going to watch a movie, stop going out or to donate ALL of your money. That´s too extreme. My idea was the following: I write down my “big” expenses in a notebook and have vowed to donate 1/10th of it. Explained in a simple way: if I buy a 50 euro phone I will later have to donate 5 euros. Does it sound like too much? I can handle it quite well… I think everybody can.
Again…I am not a saint. I have many huge flaws and COULD donate more. This is my small financial contribution. It might be too much to somebodies standards and too little someone else´s.
I always ask the people who complain for hours on the sofa about “how unsolidary the world is” and “what a pity that we don´t send aid to the Philippines” if THEY are doing anything…. Usual answer? Well, no, because….I don´t have the money at the moment. Normally said while popping out a brand new I-Phone and watching the news on a beautiful flat screen TV…
“But once I´m in a better financial situation, I will!!” Ye…Yeah…. of course.
People don´t even have to donate money. They can “invest” some of their time in helping out in an NGO or even, and you all know how critic I am with this, in the Church! NGOs are ALWAYS in need of more hands to help! ALWAYS. But getting off that sofa is quite difficult, I know! Just an hour a week seems like too much even though we spend 5 in the gym, 20 at college, and 5 watching “How I met your Mother”, etc.
It really strikes me how people try to evade the RESPONSIBILITY of helping our peers. Usually people avoid taking action by saying things like :
– we can´t really do anything about it/it´s innevitable
– they chose wrong in their life…why should I spend my time or money on helping them out
– a lot of money disappears or is misused so…better not to send aid at all!
These usual excuses are GREAT ways to avoid doing anything. I hear them way too often. Sadly enough in my own house. Very suspiciously they are never followed be statements like “but I think I have an alternative idea which CAN help/will avoid money to be used in the wrong way”. These excuses are a way of trying to shelter ourselves against the knowledge of our own insolidarity. Our greed if you will.
Again, I´m not going to tell anyone what to do. I wouldn´t even if I could! I´m just trying to make some people think about it. I started working in NGOs when I was 17. I created my own project with a friend when I was 22. I´ve donated quite an amount of money and still have a great, happy and fun life. I spend some hours a week on voluntary work. And I am no different to anybody else. I don´t have more money, longer days, more chances…
I highly recommend the book “the Life you can Save” written by Peter Singer. You can downloand a free pdf from the internet. You might like it and might not but I promise you wont forget the book in a long time.
This isn´t the perfect world we were all dreaming about. This is a fair try but still far from perfect due to greed. I hope we all think about this the next time we walk past somebody begging on the street and walk right into Pull and Bear to get 100 euros worth of clothing we already have in our closet at home.
Your hour a week in an NGO or 50e a year wont solve all the problems…but the example becomes a drop of water falling into a still pond.