Hey guys! I’m here to make a sincere apology. I promised you a piece on Pondicherry, but unfortunately, thanks to the hot weather and the fact that my little sister was too tired to walk a kilometer, I couldn’t see enough to write about. Therefore, what I can tell you about this state is that:
- It used to be a French colony.
- The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, one of the main attractions of the state, was founded by Sri Aurobindo, an Indian freedom fighter, and the Parisian Mirra Alfassa, also known as “the mother” both of whom were passionate spiritualists. Many medicinal plants are grown inside, among which people meditate in peace, making it a perfect place for any spiritualist. Here I bought a book on physical fitness, and my sister bought an herbal perfume for my mother.
- Auroville is a township founded by the mother in Pondicherry, meant to be a place where people of all faiths, beliefs, and nationalities can live together in peace. Overall, the mother’s motive for founding Auroville was to promote human unity. This was a place I was particularly interested in seeing, but like I said earlier, it was quite hot, and my sister wasn’t willing to walk the entire 1 km stretch to see the entire town.
And that’s all I can tell you about Pondicherry. Sorry! However, I definitely will be writing on Mudumalai national park, where I will be leaving for tomorrow with my sister and grandparents.
As for today, I’ll be writing on something else. I was going to start it earlier today, but I was busy gaining valuable life experience by reading manga scans and watching music videos, anime clips, and the every episode of the laser collection for the umpteenth time. This series, by the way, is incredibly funny, and one that everybody who views comedy and randomness as synonymous. To summarize this series:
| BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAARGH!!!
You won’t regret it.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, my views on charity.
There is a common view of charity: an act of goodwill and selflessness in which you give less fortunate people something at your expense, an act that seems to… redeem you of your sin. However, few people truly understand that charity isn’t at all what it’s cracked up to be. In reality, your kind contribution may end up doing the subject of your charity nothing at all, maybe even hurt him further! In order to prevent this from happening, just like you must make smart choices when working and earning, you must make similar ones when giving as well. Four prime examples of this are beggars, peddlers, charity organizations, and street performers.
Beggars: How much you are exposed to beggars and hobos often depends on where you live. In a developed country such as Taiwan, you may not as often see people on the streets holding out cups and pans. However, in third and fourth world nations such as India and Ethiopia, these people are a part of everyday life, littering the streets. When one of these destitute human beings catches your eye, you most likely cannot help feeling sorry for him, wearing dirty, tattered clothing and living in a cardboard box. Immediately, he will probably meekly ask for spare change, often using religion as an incentive, holding boards saying “God bless you.”
But before you take out those quarters in your pocket, think for a while, what will this man do with his money? Will he wisely buy food and make it last, or will he spend it on alcohol, cigarettes, or heroin like a worthless addict? Although they may not seem like it at first, beggars all around the world are junkies as well, their lethal habits being funded by the contributions of poor saps like you. Of course, not all of them are like that, but do you really want to take the chance? It’s best to refrain from directly giving money to beggars and instead buy them some food, something that may actually do them well.
All this goes even more for begging children. If the child is an orphan, then he probably will not be mature enough spend their small amounts of money on the right things. If the child has parents, then if you give anything to him, money or food, it may encourage his guardians to have him beg even more, as it means more income for them. They may even maim him so that people may feel even more pity and give even more! Unfortunately, this is how life is for the poor. In developing countries where poverty is abundant, begging is a business, one that goes hand in hand with exploitation. It is also one that is not easily given up, as it is so easy. For example, my grandmother, once went to a woman begging on the street and offered her a job as a maid in her house. In America, some people would kill for employment, but in India, this is clearly not the case, for when she heard this, the woman made like the lazy scoundrel she was and ran away from the work being offered. There are even begging rackets in nations like India, where gangsters take in stray children, maim them, and have them beg for money that will go into their pockets. Do you want to encourage this? Of course not.
Peddlers: Essentially, many peddlers are the same as beggars, for the goods they sell to you are most likely worthless. These people will do anything to make money, even sell defective, useless, maybe even illegal items. After all, where are these men, women, and children going to find the money to buy quality products in the first place? If you go to an area with high poverty such as the streets and shantytowns of India, China, and Thailand or even the slums and ghettos of the US, you’ll see people hoping to sell you used q-tips, broken toys, or even pirated DVDs and illegal drugs that you could get arrested for even holding! Of course, this is not always the case, as you can sometimes see beautiful baubles made from cheap materials being sold on the streets. However, you must always be careful, as many so-called “salesmen” found on the streets are in reality cheats. So the next time you are pondering over whether to make a trade with a shady peddler, take a moment to wonder what you are really buying.
Charity organizations: Where millions of dollars donated eventually find themselves. Whenever one decides to be a little charitable, the name of a notable nonprofit group such as UNICEF, American Red Cross, and Greenpeace immediately comes into his mind, which he ends up donating to without hesitation. And why not? These organizations use their millions for important causes such as helping children in poverty around the world, aiding victims of disasters, and promoting environmental conservation. Right?
Not everyone may be aware, but for years now many charities have shown great inefficiency and corruption, their scandals appearing in the paper countless times. For not all contributions go towards projects and programs related to the cause, instead being wasted away in unnecessary methods of fundraising and sometimes even going into the private bank accounts of officials! Indeed, stories have been heard of heads of charities staying in five-star hotels, consultants getting paid several hundred dollars a day, and fundraisers where over $0.50 is spent for every dollar made. Thus, if a contribution is made without careful consideration beforehand, you may be pouring your hard-earned cash down the drain or even into the pockets of greedy men and women, in the process encouraging further evils.
In order to prevent this, you must think carefully before deciding which bag to drop bills and coins into. Look in the news for stories of scandals in certain organizations and look up facts and statistics on sites like Charity Navigator. When researching, always make sure to use multiple sources and look for up-to-date information, for some stories and stats may be inaccurate or old. Only then should you decide whom to fund and whom to release the hounds on. If you like, instead of giving money, donate your time. Benefit the needy by volunteering at the soup kitchen or working with an organization offering opportunities for acts of goodwill, such as Habitat For Humanity, which builds homes for the homeless. Remember, money can be given just with the click of a mouse, and is not always donated with sincerity. However giving time and effort for another is a true sign of love for one’s fellowman, making it the greatest gift that can be given.
Street performers: You may think of giving to street performers as charity, since you’re deciding to contribute money when it is not necessary. But that’s not how I see it at all. Unlike irresponsible beggars, corrupt charity organization officials, and con-men masked as peddlers, the musicians, dancers, and jugglers on the streets are honest workers, for they make sure to entertain you in exchange for a possible small contribution. These are people going through tough times, rendering them unemployed, destitute and in need of cash. However, instead of sinking low and begging for it, they decide to continue working in their own way: through the simplest forms of art. Although you may not like their performances as much as those of professionals, you must understand that these men and women are doing us all great favors. They go out on the streets and strive to entertain us, knowing that they may go hungry tonight, yet still working hard. It is these people who fill our cities with an upbeat, joyful, and encouraging atmosphere, and by no means should their efforts go unappreciated.
So the next time you see a someone standing on the sidewalk and playing an instrument, singing, juggling, dancing, or miming, take a moment to observe, for they are happily giving you a free show. The best thing you can do for a performer is to stay throughout their show and show your approval afterwards, either with clapping, a handshake, compliments, or just a simple smile, for it is then the performer knows that she has succeeded in entertaining you and should continue to do so for others. And if you like her show enough, don’t hesitate at all in dropping some cash into her bag, since that is what she’s playing for in the first place, and giving her something will encourage her even further. Of course, this does not have to apply for children. Some people, like my grandmother, are saddened when they see a child performing on the streets instead of studying. It means that once again, they either don’t understand the value of the education that is offered free in some countries, or they are being exploited by their parents! In this case, giving to them will only encourage them further. However, no matter why they are performing, they are still artists, and should be appreciated for that. Even though I understand the consequences of donating to them, I still do it out of my great love for art. Of course, this is not something that you should do, but everyone should still show their appreciation for any performer, for it is people like them that make the modern world a bearable place to live in.
And there you have it. Remember to think before giving, and don’t forget to look out for my post on the Mudumalai national park. Once again, this is Naren Pradhan saying
IMMA FIRIN MAH LAZAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!