BEtween friends: The art/deceit of begging PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 11:50

By Linda Cababa – espinosa, Ed.D.


Mendicancy is as old as the bible. In Luke, Chap. 16 is the parable of Lazarus, the beggar who kept himself at a rich man’s door waiting for scraps of food to be given to him.  And that was the time when the world population was so much less.

SCIENCE journal says that our global population will rise from the current 7.2 billion to 10.9 billion by 2100.  As man continues to multiply, so does the number of the rich and the poor and the gap continues to widen just as well.

I wonder if there is any country in the world that can proudly claim to have no beggars.  I know that even America, as rich a country as it is, has its share of this social problem.  An Indian friend, many years ago, told me that there are so many beggars in India.  Some of them die in the streets and the bodies are left where they fell until the government performs its social obligation of picking them up and burying them.

Zamboanga City, small as it is, seems that every corner in town has a hand outstretched for alms.  This hand comes in many ways with the same objective – to survive through indolence. The hand could be from a man or woman in rags, or a little boy or girl whose face of hunger is emaciated enough to stir pity in any passerby.  Once in a while a man or woman carrying a baby will ask for money “for the baby” believing that the sight of a dirty half-naked baby would be more persuasive in the release of some coins.

In Plaza Pershing, boys and girls go the rounds with outstretched hands while their mothers slyly watch and wait on the sides, some whiling their time by getting their toenails pedicured!  The latest begging strategy, it is told, is distributing envelopes to passengers in jeepneys or buses saying the contribution is for a church project.

Let’s face it, even if the truth hurts, that there are people who would rather survive through dole outs than find a menial but honest, self-respecting job.

On the other hand, there are the true mendicants – the blind who live in constant darkness, the lame who stand or sit in street corners with withered arms or legs, the partially mentally afflicted who sing or recite while holding out a tin cup.  One needs only common sense to identify the true beggar and know they are the ones who truly deserve to be helped.

It is good to remember what Jesus said about sharing with others what we have:  The least that you do for my brothers, you do for me.

But begging, as well as giving, have their limits.  It is true the need to beg is a reality for some, so is the social and spiritual obligation to share for all who can.  What makes the giving onerous is the discovery and realization of the deception by the giver as when parents use their children as pawns for survival or when religious projects are invented to complete the deception.

Something’s got to give somewhere, somehow. . .