Helping the beggars: Which Approach Is Better?

Helping the beggars: Which Approach Is Better?

The story which I read was The Beggar, written by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. The action takes place in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the late 19th Century at the home of a lawyer and at the ticket booth of a theater. There is a lawyer who helps the beggar whose name is Lushkov. One day Skvortsov, the lawyer, saw a beggar who was saying I haven’t eat any tasted food for three days, and I had been a school master but I lost my job I was the victim of false witness. But he remembered he had seen this man before and he was saying different things about his early life. And he scold him by saying you are a liar you can work but you are begging here. Then Lushkov told the real story. After listening him the lawyer offered him a job, and he agreed to chop wood. Skvortsov believes that honest labor will reform Lushkov. Olga, his cook on the other hand, helps Lushkov without making demands on him. Actually, she roundly scolds him with a sharp tongue, but she ends up chopping the wood for him. Whose approach to helping the needy is better, Skvortsov’s or Olga’s? This is an important question. The author does not answer it; nor does he preach in favor of one approach or the other.

To answer this question first we should think about these questions. Who are the beggars? What do they do? The term beggar means a person that begs for money and/or food. It does not mean the same as homeless or poverty stricken. Many such people do not beg, but make their living by other means. A wealthy person can be a beggar if he sits on a street corner and asks people to give him money. How they beg? The beggar is usually quite clever and even cunning. He has many ways and means of begging. He may go about as a pretended sadhu. He keeps a bowl in hand and chants a few blessings. He deceives the ladies. He may sing some holy songs and his musical instrument. Then he is sure of a good living. The children and women welcome such type of beggar. If he has a good voice, he earns a lot. The beggar may sit just by the roadside. He may pretend to be deaf or blind. If he is actually blind, he may cry his blindness. Thus he rouses pity of people. In some cases he may have a child or two who are clad in dirty rags. They cry and weep as if starving.

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What about my country? Turkish beggars, including children, often work in groups with their families or friends. At some intersections outside the city, I’ve had kids come up to my window and cry and wail like they’re about to die until I gave them some money. Then they stopped, calmly walked to the next car, and started wailing again. I heard that one of the beggars in my hometown, Konya, has many houses, villas etc. Everybody in Konya knows him you can see him everywhere sometimes he beg for money sometimes he just sits somewhere and talks to himself.

Just like anybody else, Skvortsov despises beggars. He has sound reasons, as anyone will demonstrate. As a reminder of the general attitude towards beggars, we can also read “Why are Beggars Despised?” by George Orwell. Beggars are universally despised, as Orwell says, because there is no actual “work” that they do. “…They are parasites, worthless in their very nature.” The key point here is that most people don’t believe they are really poor or inneed of money. As passed in the Chekov’s story most beggars are saying lies to convince them. Skvortsov offers to let Lushkov chop some wood for him, satisfying his work ethic and, at the same time, doing it for Lushkov’s good, as he tells himself.

In my opinion we can decrease the number of beggars if we really persist on. There are a lot of research about it we can find some solutions in them. Especially in India the problem is very big so researchers try to solve it. Actually, to my country and other Muslim societies, if we follow the rules of Islam truly we don’t need to do anything else. Because Islamic way of life requires giving alms and charities ın order to balance the incomes. But people don’t care about much and most of the Islamic countries face with the economic inequity.


Coming back to the story, after about two years later they meet again. He told the truth. “Do you know, sir, I never chopped a single log for you – she did it all!”By saying this Lushkov credits Olga for the change in his life. “I only know that what she said and the noble way she behaved brought about a change in my soul, and I shall never forget it.” But I don’t think  it is as simple as that. Without denying the noble actions of Olga, it may be well to consider who initiated the entire process. Olga would never have met Lushkov if Skvortsov hadn’t brought him over to chop wood. Without Olga, perhaps Skvortsov’s experiment might have failed. Lushkov would have been unable to chop wood, Skvortsov would have got angry, and probably kicked him out.

I think each did well in their individual way; that is the only fair conclusion. The combined efforts of various people, some visible, some not so visible, produce the overall results. Neither blame nor credit can be attributed to any one person.

As a conclusion the beggars are idlers. They cause a great loss of labor and industry to the nation. Their manual labor could have been better utilized in factories or mills. They would have produced useful work. The healthy beggars should not give any alms. They should be discouraged in every ways so that they may become the useful members of the society. And the unhealthy beggars should be supported by the charities and they should be directed to social welfare centers.