Content advisory 18+ I just caught Adrita’s article about beggars in India. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be in places like that. Of course, the homeless and hapless are everywhere and must be dealt with one way or the other. As with the prison system, the question involves the push-pull between blame and compassion. Should we despise beggars or try to help them? I used to have a kind of girlfriend in London (we slept together a few times) that I had known at university when we were doing the Sociology degree. I had always wanted her back in Bath, but it wasn’t until I caught up with her in London (where she had indeed become a social worker) that I had my brief roll in the hay with her. She had, alas, become terribly disillusioned with The Poor.
“We do everything we can for them, but they will not help themselves at all !” she lamented. “We give them vouchers for the good-will shop to get clean clothes and they never turn up.” Etc. I don’t know what that woman finally decided to do. Maybe she still tries to help. Maybe not. It was 1979. London of a different era. Is it different now? Apparently not. The Poor are everywhere. It is a problem no civilization has ever solved.
Among the many crazy ideas that people have come up with, the British — in the days leading up to and beyond the Industrial Revolution — believed that if you were poor if was because you deserved it or because, in the grand order of things – this was what God had assigned you to be. It was a great way of justifying the Class System. If you were one of the have-nots, it was simply God’s Will. No point trying to go against God, is there? It’s like Calvinism, another marvelous religion of the day. In this grand scheme, there were ‘The Elect” — the ones God had already decided would join him in Heaven before the Dawn of Civilization had even started.Therefore, it was like a fixed boxing or football match — Creation was already a Done Deal. So let God’s Elect enjoy the golden boulevards and angelic rock concerts of Paradise and let the other bastards starve because “God wants it that way !”.
But there were always those who saw through this self-justifying donkey-shit dogma and tried to find a way to help. In the more advanced countries we now see numerous social services that meet with varying degrees of success. In the perennially non-developing “developing” nations, the poor just starve, get sick, and die. What to do?
Some say everything is relative, and the longer I live (if you discount the fact that the dying process actually goes to work pretty early — it’s just subtle — so I COULD say ‘the longer I die’), the more I start to wonder if anything has any meaning at all. More and more, it all seems like so much blah-blah. To this I attribute the overload of crap we have to deal with, endless marketing of junk, recycling of junk, junk food, junk cinema, junk science, junk psychology, junk technology, junk people. Junk blogs. Everybody writes a blog nowadays. Does it matter if any of it is any good or not? It is really just a way to get attention.
When I see poor people in the street I do not assign blame. I am just glad I am not one of them. If I have money and I am in a decent mood, I will dole some out. I never preach or say things like “God bless you” or “Buy food, not alcohol.” I don’t care what they buy. I am not there to judge them. In fact I HOPE they buy alcohol. If my 50 rubles can purchase them 30 pain-free minutes, why not? If you assign blame, it implies that correctable wrongdoing has occurred and — Shucks !!! — if everyone would just get off the sofa, pull their socks up and put things right, then, by golly, we could make this here doggone world a really neat and cool place, Yuck- Yuck !
I don’t think so. Technology changes every nano-second, but human character does not. At least it hasn’t in the nearly seven decades I have been alive. Nor according to the books I have read, books describing life that goes a long way back — it wasn’t different then either. People sucked in the past and they suck now. They sucked in the Old Testament. They sucked during the Roman Empire. They sucked during the Middle Ages. They sucked during the 20th Century. They sucked and suck. In the meantime, it must be said the past also had its share of quiet heroes that just went about their business and tried to clean up after themselves and help whomever they could. I have attempted to be one of them, at least some of the time, especially back when I thought that we could and would all BE BETTER.. At least I made the right noises. Probably didn’t really DO a hell of a lot, come to think of it. Just talked and dreamed.
Well, we haven’t gotten better and we won’t. The sad souls whom we Winners see as the Losers in this world are simply an inevitable by-product. It’s nothing to do with God, because God isn’t there, and if he was, ‘He’ wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t lift a finger. So it is up to us — the people — to decide — and we are basically no better than we ever were, regardless of all the blather about ‘’Human Rights’ we are fed all the time. So nothing is ever going to change unless technology simply, one of these days, makes us unrecognisably different from what we are now. Maybe turns us all into computers and robots. Wouldn’t surprise me one idiota…
Well, at least we don’t burn people at the stake anymore. But we still water-board them and give them lethal injections. The Americans do that, and they are the cream of the crop supposedly.
Everybody who ends up on the street has a story to tell. Or they would have if they could still talk coherently, which a lot of them can’t. A part of me still cares, but not like I used to. I finally realized that I can’t save the world. More than people, I try to help animals, especially dogs.
My feeling is that the dogs didn’t create this filthy, fucked up mess that the earth remains: overcrowded with shrieking ego-maniacs on the one hand and half-dead beggars on the other. I just live in it. Nothing I will ever say, do, or write will make the slightest difference, and when I die I will be forgotten in a week — if that long.
THAT is reality. So I feed the dogs, the cats, the pigeons. I love them and they don’t trick or punish me for loving them. It is a pleasure to help animals.
People ? OK, buddy, here’s 50 rubles. Get drunk. Have a ball.
===Eric Richard Leroy===