You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 06, 2016, 01:54:54 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries  (Read 1126 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« on: May 23, 2009, 03:37:21 AM »
I had a recent ethical and moral conundrum the other day, when I was walking downtown as I haven't done in a very long time.   I had the sun on my face, an ocean breeze in my hair, moving among the masses of humanity as they hunt and gather their lunches from their Corporate Tribal Dens on Water Street, and from just the next corner down, music could be heard.  Guitar and bongos, primarily, but there were some wind instruments as well.  I dropped some coins in their cases, and carried on my merry.

Near the corner of Water and George, just outside an art gallery, there were two people sitting on blankets, carving out of ivory and quartz.  I stopped for a little while, fascinated by the sheer beauty of watching shapes appear from blocks of material, and even though they didn't have a jar or a basket out, I dropped a few more coins in the small pile on the edge of their blanket.

Then I came across a person sitting with a sign and a dog just outside my bank, doing nothing to attract attention, but begging for money all the same.  I skirted around her, went into my bank, and skirted around her on the way out.  She didn't look up, didn't ask if I could spare anything, just sat there bleakly and petted her dog. 

Now... I don't consider myself a stingy person by any means: I tip my cabdrivers at least 20% (higher if they've treated me like a valued customer).  I leave tips for sandwich slaves at Subway, and when tips are not accepted at businesses, I still make sure to thank my cashier/CSR and wish them a good day.  But to myself, I just couldn't justify giving money to someone who was sitting uselessly at a corner, begging for money.

I understand that poverty exists... hell, I'm below the poverty line in my province and have been for years.  However, I can still live a fairly comfortable life with the income I have.  I know what hunger is -- I've been it before.  But this is why things like soup kitchens and food banks are in place.  This is why there are social assistance programs and shelters for those who have nowhere else to go.  They are not perfect by any means, but honestly, they're not that hard to find.

Am I wrong to want to reward productivity while shying away from giving my money to someone who either can't or won't sign up for assistance programs?  To someone who won't at least try to earn it by offering music or art or even something as simple as washing car windows as other beggars in my city do?  Am I wrong to prefer my money go to buskers who earn it and not those who merely sit by and hope like hell someone donates to their cause?

I don't know... I don't feel guilty about not giving even a few coins to someone who's merely begging, but I wonder if I should.

Offline Lithos

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2009, 07:14:53 AM »
Not sure really, no people begging on streets here. That is what I pay taxes for.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2009, 01:55:44 PM »
There's a saying - give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.  The people that stand on a corner, carving or busking, are 'fishing': making use of skills they have learned in exchange for reward - even if it's just acknowledgment of that skill.  The people that stand on a corner with nothing but a sign are simply asking for fish.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2009, 09:54:08 PM »
Most charity organizations will advise you not to give money direct to such people.  Many of them recommend giving to charities, obviously, or to more public donations.  If you must give out some form of money then itís recommended you purchase food gift cards, like McDonaldís dollars, to give them.  This is to avoid the money being spent on alcohol, drugs or being used to pay their rent.  There have been cases where people do make quite a bit of money from begging. 

I really canít tell you whether you should feel guilty about the incident.  Granted you would give your money to people that can afford instruments or materials to carve over the woman with her dog might raise an eyebrow.  Certainly this could be viewed as they are entertaining me so I will pay them.  Yet on the flipside you are expecting a woman who may have just gone through some sort of personal tragedy to sing and dance for a few coins.  If this woman was simply sitting there with a sign, making no eye contact and simply staring at the concrete than something may be wrong.  Unless you stop to talk to her, you wonít know.

I refuse to believe that people beg on the side of the road because they are too lazy to apply for aide.  Most certainly they may be responsible for their condition in some fashion, but laziness is just a quick generalization.  People can easily say they will never wind up like these people because they are not that ďlazy.Ē  Few, if any of us, dream of sitting on the side of the road so that we can do nothing all day as a good choice.

Would I have given her money?  Probably not but mainly that is because of the reasons in the first paragraph.  Do I look down on the woman for having to beg?  Not at all and if saw her as anything less than a person going through a difficult time, then I would feel guilty for judging her without knowing her story.

Offline sloc

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 09:10:13 AM »
In that case I probably would have given that person money, just because he/she had a dog and your description made me
think of despondency.
Sometimes people fall hard and can't get up by themselves.
Sometimes a small gesture can make someone's day better :)

I don't think there is such a thing as "having to" give anything.
Just do what you feel is right. No reason to feel bad.

There is enough judgmentalism and guilt around (both of self and others) - and those don't solve anything anyway :)



Offline Torch

  • Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain/Trieste's sarcasm buddy
  • Suspended
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2009
  • Location: USA
  • Gender: Female
  • "Soul meets soul on lovers' lips." P.B. Shelley
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2009, 01:57:56 PM »
Most charity organizations will advise you not to give money direct to such people.  Many of them recommend giving to charities, obviously, or to more public donations.  If you must give out some form of money then itís recommended you purchase food gift cards, like McDonaldís dollars, to give them.  This is to avoid the money being spent on alcohol, drugs or being used to pay their rent.  There have been cases where people do make quite a bit of money from begging. 

Very true. I never, ever hand out cash to someone on the street. I will, however, offer to buy someone food...and rarely am I ever taken up on the offer.

Several years ago a woman came up to me as I was in the parking lot of the supermarket, and I was unloading my groceries out of my cart. She had a disheveled looking toddler in her arms and an older child by the hand, and she asked for money to buy food and that her children were hungry. I responded by saying I could not give her cash, but I would be more than happy to go back into the store and buy them some groceries. She just shook her head and walked away, and as I drove out of the parking lot, I could see her approach someone else and beg.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2009, 02:16:37 PM »
On the flip side of that, we used to go to a place called Ruby's in DC's Chinatown for late night dim sum.  They've gone out of business, sadly, but there would sometimes be people outside begging for cash.  A friend of mine would always offer them her leftovers.

Not once was the offer refused.

Offline Greenthorn

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2009, 02:41:02 PM »
In the very least, we should not avoid these people.  I would have smiled, not skirted.

But, honestly no one reaction is -right-. 

Offline Majere Dreavan

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2009, 06:12:06 AM »
Well, Now that I'm Back I might as well get back into things with one of the Wonderful ladies who talked me through my beginning here. But I feel you are wrong, There is a Definate Right answer. The one that feels right. Your not often to be led astray by a feeling, as you are an over calculated thought. Yesterday I gave a man 30 dollars cuz he was hitchiking to new orleans for a job. And he didnt have money enough to eat, so i gave him a few meals, Sure it may have bought alcohol or whatever.. But It will make him happy atleast in the short run. That means I did good, And I feel good about it. But if it doesnt feel right, I wont do it. The fates have to be in the right order for me to give, And they usually are. Im my mothers son that way. She spent thousands of my fathers money on things she nor i nor he will ever see. But it changed someone elses life. Even if its a coin or two.. If it feels right. Just do it. This world needs to stop Thinking about doing things and actually... Do them? I babbled... Sorry

Offline Greenthorn

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2009, 09:12:49 AM »
Shogran,

I meant "right" as in a universal manner...

I agree that we should feel what is "right" for us  ;)

Offline Majere Dreavan

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2009, 10:28:16 AM »
Oh, Well .. I Apologize then. Sorry,

Offline Jude

Re: The Human Condition & Moral Quandaries
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2009, 06:03:01 AM »
I think there's more than just right or wrong.  Actions can carry no moral weight whatsoever, like what you did.  It'd be silly to think of flipping on a light switch as a "good" thing to do, so it's not like the concept is foreign to most people.  You did no damage to the person but you didn't help them either.  Furthermore your motivation wasn't malicious or benevolent in doing so.

Now if you ignored them because you thought it was for their own good (and were sure of such completely), then things start to get a little gray and the question of universal morality comes into focus.