For a volunteer project in which I participate, we received training in preparation. During one of the role-plays, I was asked to take on the role of a beggar. I had to sit on the ground. My fellow students were asked to do what they normally would do when seeing a beggar – no judgments were given.
So I sat there. Some walked by without looking, others cast a reprehensible glance. Most gave – or rather threw – some coins, which of course is considered very humane.
I wasn’t a real beggar, I only did this for 10 minutes.
But the feeling it gave me was eye-opening and I won’t ever forget. I had to ‘look up’, people looked down on me. I felt shame and humiliation. I fully understand now that beggars would rather stare at the ground than have to look up and say thank you.
Tip for today
Next time you give something to a beggar, kneel and try to look into his or her eyes while saying something friendly: ‘good morning’, ‘good evening’, ‘I wish you the best’…
That simple gesture gives them the feeling of respect, the feeling of being a person.