Beggars are an everyday sight in bigger cities. Feelings towards beggars are negative which I can understand as there is no pride left when you beg. You are on the street and are very vulnerable. Poverty is seen a fault of your own, not a virtue. It is a stench and a shame to not have money. Opinions range from disgust to pity. As an artist I can relate to this. A poor artist is a bad artist, which thought has as much sense as the art scene in general. But still I am rich. I look rich because I have my teeth left and my clothes are new and I have a home. I can relate as I do not come from money and I make art at shoestring budget. There is creativity in being poor and I can afford to think this way. Having no money makes you innovative. I do not consider wealth a measure of man and I do think we should start consuming less. To learn to think having less a virtue is what I’m hoping to see. Biggest wealth is what a nation can do to its citizens and help them think that there are options for them to try out, that they are not destined to be beggars or what someone else tells them to be. Our destiny is not set by other people and where we come from.
Merciful and allowing kindness, non judgmental attitudes towards beggars resonate with our overflowing concern over the third world countries. Their state is what we feel guilty for, it is our doing in part, but how long should this guilt go on? How responsible are Finns for example for what happens in the world now? Our consuming of goods and lifestyle is a constant threat which includes facts about slavery and child labor, how much do we contribute to and how well can we be aware of exploitation? To be able to get ahead in life is not luxury it is a human right, to evolve on your own. Not be the child to be abused but taken care of, our responsibility is grave and dark. Of course we must be concerned, but what kind of help is the best kind? Do we support corruption and oppressive traditions when we give monetary help? For those who are oppressed and poor begging must be allowed, but it cannot be a without an end kind of method of earning. How much mercy there is and what does it mean when you give money? Are you doing something good for that other person or for yourself, you save yourself and the other perhaps? In Finland there were not many if at all beggars on the streets ten years ago, living without a permanent home in the cold on the mercy of others is a short life to which in Scandinavia some party will intervene. To intervene to destructive ways of living is one aspect of welfare state. Abandonment can happen by families but not by state. The Roma people are tightly dependent on their family structures and hierarchy there which cannot be questioned as harmful. Beggars beg for reasons we can guess what goes behind there is a matter of knowing and suspicious, a well grounded question. Begging is especially cruel for children for which I am most concerned about. The most important duty of any nation is to provide a basic education for its children and get them out from the streets. This child labor, abuse and a human rights violation is very acute all over the world. Despite all the natural and other riches nations may have child poverty is on the rise and they are the ones who suffer most. I do not have any empathy for people who put their kids on the streets to work may the work be prostitution, begging, playing music, washing car windows etc. Child labor is one of our major problems still even though there is clear evidence that educating all children is the benefit of all society. To give education is the safest bet and an investment for the future. People who have been working on the street since childhood probably will continue to do so in adulthood.
Poverty is a though one to escape and to change destitute life is unbearably hard but not impossible. To think it is impossible is to think fight is only for survival and that options are for the rich. In Finland punks beg money for beer in the summer and I can laugh about it. The Roma people come here to beg throughout the year which gets very cold and is not a healthy way to make a living. When families with children occupy the streets at the centre of the city, the busy corners reflect ways of life and how distant people’s lives can be from each other as distant as understanding of life and its purpose are. One wonders is this really how the Roma want to live, shouldn’t their kids be at school, and there comes someone telling me they have no option. So I conclude they are refugees. Why do they not see themselves as refugees? To criticise their way of living is for them cruel and unjust because they escape from oppression, this a repetition and the story, but it is vital for their survival, is always the answer, the same unchangeable. What else could they do and it is easy for me to say what I think. You beg money from me I can have an opinion. They do not think and see other options for themselves and their kids as they are a different class as the Roma of Finland seem to think of themselves as well, a race, a tribe. They see it difficult to live as the majority of people do and mutual respect is scarce. The best help sometimes is the understanding of facts and rules, admit that the world changes around, but you do not. What are you going to do about it?
It’s true to my mind to give money for them is supporting oppression Roma themselves are guilty of, a culture that forces its members to live in a certain way. Handout is giving ground for begging. Begging is about serious destitution, a culture where humans live without tomorrow and as it is allowed to happen is as such difficult to approve of. People are free to beg and continue to beg but not change their predicament in any way, there is something wrong with that and I can say it. The Roma clearly do not think or do not find any other way to make a living. Destitution shrinks one’s thinking and views on oneself. Among the Roma there is a thought that their lifestyle is sacred and they involve religion to begging which there is no business others to intervene or judge, people must help those in desperate need if they are true Christians. Forcing is not a Christian thing to do as is not stealing, lying and being incapable of helping oneself. To force someone to beg is slavery. Those who do not contribute and show compassion are cold-hearted and cruel, the Roma say. Education, evolution and change demand a certain degree of cruelty and pain. Those who stubbornly want to stay the same blame other people for their situation. Such denial is common anywhere. Feminists are blamed for making men feel inadequate and destroying families. If you are so useless what is the use of you? What people should learn is to help themselves not depend on other people to make them happy and give money. That is the way to go. This idea of making a living doing what they have always been doing is very telling of how stuck people are in their old ways of living without education. People who are oppressed in their own countries can apply for asylum. Surely options seem few under oppression, but they are few partly because there is not a seed of hope or thought for anything else. Thinking destiny is set because of your sex, origin, colour, religion etc. is yesterday’s doctrine that must not be obeyed today by anyone.
Denmark already has a very strict law against begging which is seen as fascist by many. Beggars who go to jail may have a chance for change. To my mind tradition of begging which continues from generation to generation is fascist. It is forcing a whole of community under one truth and one kind of way of living where women and children must obey and do what they are told. The Roma people are oppressed and rejected and begging is not helping their case, nor is living in vans or stealing from shops. As shocked as I was when they entered Finland a couple of years ago, the shock may be due to me having enjoyed the welfare state and possibilities it has offered. To remind you state providing its citizens is the best way for poor people to get ahead in life, such as myself, I have never had money to call myself rich. I do not get used to the idea there are people who base their whole existence being beggars. Roma people who usually beg in Finland ground the whole of their identity via this act of asking for daily income from people who pass them by. Communities that stay the same are doomed. Resistance is the only way. It has been the way for the poor to change the world and themselves.