Life beggars

In an article published in The Harvard Business Review a psychologist that is a columnist in that magazine stated how society is contributing that life “beggars”, homeless people, continue in the streets.

The psychologist explained a theory based in an interesting cycle, in which he states how society wished to eradicate a wrong but at the same time is part of the root of the problem.

He gave an example, telling how homeless people went begging daily in the streets because they needed money to buy food but nonetheless there are a high percentage of those people that use that money to buy alcohol or drugs.

In his dissertation he explained how society understood they were working with the problem giving them money because it was a sort of temporary “relief”. At the same time, the same people that were interviewed confessed after a while that they did it because they felt a bit guilty for not being able to do anything more.

At the end of the article, the human conduct professional indicated that it could never be proven in the study if giving the money was easier or harder; if that was the root of the problem or part of maintaining it. But what was proven was that it wasn’t a viable solution.

Days later I had the opportunity of having breakfast with a person whom I consider a mentor, a person that instead of giving money out to these people has found a possible solution.

He told me that years ago he noticed that what the psychologist stated in his article and what he decided to practice an alternative method that has been very successful. It was based in the famous phrase that says: “you can take the horse to the river but you cannot make it drink”.

This young man, retired from working for multinationals all his life in the marketing business, commented over a cup of coffee that he created a nonprofit organization that procures through its connections people that need to remodel their houses.

Immediately as soon as he identifies a possible client he “recruits” a person that doesn’t have a home but has the basic skills to offer the client with a special need and puts them to work.

But it doesn’t end there. He gives them a job, gets them a transitional home for the time they are working, he guides them on everything pertaining to the benefits of being “indigent”, among many other things that he does for them.

The result has been a marvelous one that can’t be measured by any concept since in the process he has literally saved lives.

We must confess that since reading that article we have been in a deep personal introspection and we have begun to make a thorough analysis observing both points of view.

Contributing to them staying in the streets by giving them money or making a contribution directly to an organization that gives these angels direct services are both acts that some of us at some point in our lives have done.

But, what if, from now on we were to think thoroughly on what we do daily and ask ourselves, instead of complaining that this “wrong” exists, how we can be part of the solution by simply being more responsible with our actions.

Who is more of a beggar, the one that begs or the one that doesn’t offer a real solution?

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