Empower rather than enslave others through charity

Carrying your little brother

Rather than charity, empower others to help themselves.

In Colchester yesterday I purchased a discounted packet of sandwiches for a homeless guy.  Fortunately the homeless people, that is those who sleep with no roof over their heads, can be counted on one hand in Colchester.  I suspect that those that do sleep out do so as a personal choice.

Normally I purchase a magazine called Big Issue from a homeless news vender, which costs £2.50 of which £1.25 the homeless person keeps for themselves.  I won’t give money directly to the homeless person since I want to be sure that he spends it on food not things like alcohol.

My default approach to all issues concerning helping others is not to carry them, but to build bridges, a means by which they can help themselves across the ravines of life.

I noted that plenty of the public gave money to the homeless person, and it is ironic that this approach encourages the homeless person to continue to depend upon the charity of others.  This homeless person has been in the same situation for years, he has not taken much effort in my opinion of climbing out of his hole.

Another danger of trying to help people out of holes is they will take advantage, I have had two individuals turn stalker as they became obsessed with me.  Another danger is that people will pull you into the holes with them.

Charities are another issue of concern for me.  The people who come to me in the street, who “sell” the charity take two-thirds of the donations for themselves.  The charities have become inefficient, spending too much money on administration and advertising, rather than the causes they were supposed to represent.  It is a nonsense that charities are competing against each other in the same fields: Oxfam, Unicef, Plan, Christian Aid, all seem to address poverty in the third world.

I have an ambivalent feeling about the image I use in this blog.  Rather than see this as a symbol of me actually carrying people to their destination, I see the “carrier” as a bridge, knowledge and practical wisdom, and the “child” as human potential.  In other words if you are in the hole, I throw in the rope, if you are at the river, I will build the bridge, but it is down to you to pull yourself out of the hole, and it is down to you to walk across the bridge.

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9 responses to “Empower rather than enslave others through charity

  1. Where I live in Canada, there are a lot of panhandlers on the street. Particularily aboriginal, and the whole city seems to just hate them. Indeed the hatred of Winnipegers is shocking and frightening. They seem to hate everyone and everything. When I see these panhandlers though, it is true that they don’t seem to want to pull themselves out of the hole. Some have even told me they are just looking for another bottle. Often they gather in groups to try and intimidate for their donations. The majority are also largely overweight, which doesn’t seem right when they tell you they are hungry. I feel for them and sometimes even give them change hoping it will not be spent in the wrong place, I don’t want to just ignore them like everyone else does, but at the same time have no idea what to do or not to do.

    • Your conflicting feelings about the “panhandlers” is echoed across your community, which causes the ill feeling towards the “panhandlers”. When I see the homeless in the doorways they stir inside of me anger and embarrassment. I do not want tourists to see these people, it gives a bad image of Colchester, at the same time I am confused as to if these people are victims of society, or just parasites.

      In my mind there should be a place for these people to go to during the day and night, and then laws are made to discourage people begging and sleeping on the streets of Colchester. The problem of providing places for the homeless however will cause more to arrive at Colchester, it is a difficult issue. This then brings me round to the point that cities and towns should become self supporting city states, with control on who enters them and thus only keep the resources for its own people and not invading parasites.

  2. They still strike me as people who have given up on life, and for that I feel sorry for them. Although they are everywhere here, all i’m still seeing are addicts of one kind or another. They always ask for smokes, which really lowers their credibility, especially since I don’t smoke. I believe that effort counts more than the result. That no one who is trying is a loser. That one should treat their life with respect whether happy or unhappy. I myself am in a frightening and miserable spot right now, constantly feeling overwhelmed and full of anxiety, but I try to keep pushing on. With these people I see no effort whatsoever. I’m not even sure they are capable of effort. They are totally lost which makes me feel even sorrier for them.

    • There is a blogger on WordPress that I am subscribed to, a gifted writer, and they are in a hole, they are on the verge of abyss. What frustrates me about that writer is their mental attitude that there is no way out, they have already made the decision they are doomed to drown in their abyss, and in making their choice they will indeed go down. That blogger is on the verge, and they could so easily turn away, but they have that lemming mentality to self destruct.

      Many people when they suffer the problems of life, they run to drugs: alcohol, weed, tobacco… but also self pity, sex, obsessions, fantasy… they begin to parasite, and will drag others down with them.

      Others, fall to mental illness, and for them the only way is medical support.

      Others through the pressure of life have their spirit broken, they give up.

    • Hey, just wanted to say, keep going, you have my respect for showing fighting spirit against adversity.

      • pouchmaster

        Thanks. Colchester sounds like a nice place, and I envy the fact that you can be proud of your town. Don’t get me wrong, Canada is very beautiful in many places, this just isn’t one of them.Everyday on my ride I see dozens of panhandlers, the homeless, trash everywhere, remnants of vandalism, the intoxicated, sirens, and most of all the hatred of all who live here. sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are better places out there.

      • I have heard stories that Canadians leave their doors unlocked, is this not the case in your area? I have read stories of those who take a dislike to minorities in some Canadian towns.

  3. That’s reasonable. Actually, I think that’s if anything, the correct thing to do. The only danger I feel is that sometimes people take this mindset and turn it into an excuse to never do any of the “direct aid.” It is unfortunately still quite essential, as it can take time to build those bridges, and in the meanwhile people still fall into the river. It’s kind of like responded to emergencies. Sometimes you’ve got to give the immediate relief (just to save the life), but the focus should be getting the person walking again on their own two feet themselves. Luckily I can tell you, as one who’s been looking around for a humanitarian niche of late, all the big charities aren’t just being redundant— they are highly moving towards this self-sustaining model (the peace corp comes to mind). The question of sustainability though is unfortunately often a darn hard one.

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