We all know the opening words from the famous play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, but seeing it for real it may stir all your well established principles upside down and as we have seen, bring ones existence into question. And it causes more than a jaw-dropping disbelief.
What words should I choose to begin to express the emotions of mixed baseness and disappointment. In myself first and foremost. And all prompted by a mere gesture of generosity.
I would be telling a lie if I say that I’m the most generous person you have met. But I’m certainly not the least generous person that you may know. “Every each one of us is an economist” my Grandma used to say. Even when we see a helpless person on the street begging for whatever you can give, we measure our decision to give or not to give. How many of us would extend our hand to give to the one that doesn’t have when we see them under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or some other substance? How many of us would think twice? Have doubts and uncertainties about whether it’s right or wrong to give to that person?
Plenty of us, I would say.
Disbelief. Perplexity. Sadness is how I describe this situation. Walking through the streets of this new (for me) small town in Denmark something bewildering happened. Something I might never be able to understand or explain to myself or others. I feel like I have been denied access at the very gates of heaven.
Whenever I have had the chance of having some pocket money in my purse and have come across a beggar on the street, it has become a habit to give a few coins or paper money. Just give whatever you have. But nowadays the rules have changed.
Walking down the main bright lighted street of O. in Denmark around dinner time I spotted a man sitting on the ground, writing something down in his notebook with a small bowl in front of him. Obviously, not from pleasure that he’s there. There were only a few passers by. I dropped some coins in the man’s bowl being careful to place the coins as soundlessly as possible and try not to disturb him in whatever he was doing. And as soon I withdrew my hand the man abruptly snatched the bowl with resignation and scattered the coins all over the stone pavement. He was speaking danish, of course, with an angry tone while looking at me.
Not being fluent in danish, has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. The only word that I caught from what the man was saying was “Jag er træt” meaning “I am tired”.
Must admit, I was taken aback by the reaction. A stranger to be denied alms. I apologized right away even though I’m not quite sure what for.
Probably this is a country where the giving is no morally higher nor better then the beggar. Maybe this man was a prophet and read something else in my being, saw something filthy in my approach of giving a few coins, in my solidarity with his not having. Didn’t want my coins, the crumbs from my pocket. Maybe because they were not paper money, most probably because every one of us would rather spend our money on ourselves than on another person, however small or big amount of money we have. But nevertheless, there is the need to give. To share.
I offended the man I understand. I did something much more debased than that. But why did he feel the need to offend me too. Times are certainly changing.
In this manner, this poor man freezing outside in the cold, not because of his own free will he is there; he is saying that if you really want to show that you care for his well-being and next meal then you will offer something more significant from your own pocket. You will try better that that. And certainly you can do better than that.
Beggars can’t be choosers. Or can they?!
Yes, it is true that we learn best from the bitter lessons in life.
Has giving become overrated? Do we appreciate more the giver or the one being given to? How do we measure whom to give and whom not to give?
Should I consider twice before giving, when offering some money to the one in need?
It’s always better to give more. Even when it’s not deserved. In order to show respect for the one without a roof over his head, the bid needs to be higher then just a few lousy coins. If you can scrape up more from your pocket that’s fine, if not there are other ways to help as well. A warm meal, a cup of tea, a nice heart-warming words can be good for the soul as well.
To be continued…