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The Ethics of Greed : Panhandling as an Example

By Edited Jan 20, 2016 0 0

How could one earn his living without spending considerable efforts in either looking for a job or doing it? The answer is not mind-boggling for the erudite and authorities in the field of easy social climbing as it stands alone as a beacon for those who lost their way towards success with the least cost. Begging is unfortunately the answer, and more importantly the best way, if not the sole effective way, to guarantee a leisurely life all the time. Begging in its most aggressive form, I mean panhandling, is undoubtedly a lucrative activity far better than any other one likely to generate a respectable income.

Not surprisingly, the number of beggars and panhandlers is in the increase. The bulk of begging practitioners are mistakenly considered a deplorable outcome of their harsh environment or helpless people having no choice apart from stretching their hands and asking for charity. The real and hideous truth, however, is that a rampant proportion of uneducated population, in either developed or under-developed countries, think of begging as an unofficial job or even worse as an unalienable right not to be meddled with.

Governments' failure in the world to deal a deadly blow to this kind of malpractice depicts how thorny the problem is. The wrong way to deal with this phenomenon is to think of it in term of jobs penury or abundance. It has absolutely nothing to do with it. People with a soupsçon of dignity might, understandably, resort to begging for a short period of time when an economical crisis burgeons and leads inevitably to their descent to the bottom of the social ladder. But beyond that, it becomes a practice that blatantly shows how low a caricature of human being can sink.

Countless examples and stories are daily echoed here and there about rich panhandlers who live on begging while having in their possession a real estate or, to a lesser degree, a sum of money that could reinstate them in society as active participants in the economy. Though such stories can easily be rebuffed as rumors standing on shaky grounds, they, all the same, trigger our attention to the alarming dimension the problem has taken. Yet, the so-called rumors are all but unfounded.

In one of many TV documentaries on an African channel that deal with social problems, the panhandling phenomenon was laid bare before the viewers. Two examples drew in particular my attention. The first one was of an old woman having the sum of 30 thousand dollars in her bank account. The second one was a man wearing bundles of bills of about 17 thousand dollars. I said wearing because he wrapped up his body with his bundles of bills under the filthiest clothing one can imagine. At this juncture, one can't help but meditating about the issue. Those two examples prove that poverty is not the incentive. In this case, what could really motivate such kind of people to continue to swallow their pride and ask for money since they have it even in abundance?

The answer is however no mystery at all. For those people, words such as pride, dignity, shame, are vacuous words whose meaning was partly, if not completely, lost somewhere in the dictionary. They, in fact, shouldn't shoulder the blame for such ignorance. Had they been taught the meanings of these words, they wouldn't have been turned into panhandlers. The blame is a shared responsibility between governments and society. A swathe of reform must be implemented to make, from an early age, this kind of values fully digestible. Instead of focusing on wiping out illiteracy, it is more than advisable to insert and discuss the social plagues of society via NGO's and associations at all levels.
Panhandlers shouldn't be hunted down like medieval witches; rather their voice should be heard and, more importantly, they should be helped to overcome their insatiable greed as well as their fear of deprivation. Through genuine rehabilitation programs that focus on building sensible and sensitive human beings capable of shoring up society instead of undermining it, panhandling phenomenon can be contained, though not necessarily extinguished. Failing to do that, most governments will continue to spin in a vicious circle that leads nowhere.



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