On a recent Facebook Page post I asked the travel question: If you traveled to another place, would you rather spend the day there with a thief OR a beggar? As usual, this question drew in responses from several different angles, and and it gave me a lot to consider.
Here are some of the replies and their reasons given, and also which one I ended up choosing myself and why. I had entered into this with my own preconceived notion, let's see if I was swayed by your responses.
In Favor Of: Spending the Day with a Beggar...
There definitely were a few good comments in favor of spending the day with a beggar, all of them really gave me some food for thought.
Here some of my favorite comments that stand out:
Beggar. I wouldn't trust the thief, so I wouldn't be able to relax. And it would be really interesting to see/hear how a beggar gets along in the world."
Considering the fact that thieves are notoriously deceitful by nature, Lash brought out a good point. How much could you really trust the person you are spending your time with? Are they going to take advantage of you, just the same as they would their own victims? Of course, I should have prefaced the question with a statement that all negative aspects of the person's lifestyle would in no way affect you, i.e. the thief wouldn't steal from you and the beggar wouldn't beg off of you. That being said, there is still that certain level of mistrust towards anyone who shadily gains from other people's unknowing loss.
And still another point of view:
A beggar - they would appreciate the time spent more...plus they're generally pretty good people watchers, so I assume would have amazing stories!"
From a more human aspect, I could see what Meg was saying. Beggars are accustomed to public scorn and mistreatment, and any ounce of concern, care and personal interest shown to such ones would not only be appreciated, but it could also go a long way in encouraging and uplifting their trodden down spirits.
Another commenter brought out an interesting thought:
Beggar. You get to people watch and see how the public reacts to these people."
I guess I hadn't really considered the intriguing aspect of observing community response to their own people having to live this lifestyle. You can definitely tell a lot about a community or a group of people just based on how they treat or interact with those they consider to be the lowest on their own social scale.
All of this definitely got my mind rolling, but of course, I had to see the other side of the coin.
No Way...I'd Rather: Spend the Day With a Thief!
As a 'perceiving' person, I prefer options. I like to look at a situation from differing angles and viewpoints. So of course, I had to take an equal and open look at the thoughts and opinions of commenters who pulled more towards the other choice, spending the day with a thief.
Here are some of the comments:
While I'm neither of those, I'd tag along with the thief - I think it would be interesting to see how someone operates. A beggar, on the other hand, we see more commonly on the streets, so their activities are comparatively more transparent...though both shrouded."
There is definitely a level of intrigue and mystery in the case of thieves. Where do they go? How do they prepare themselves? How exactly do they pull it all off without getting caught? Thieves are hidden by craft, and to gain an insider's peak into how exactly things are accomplished would be a fascinating experience. Beggars, on the other hand, are open for all to see.
Another reader said:
A thief, as there is somewhat more active engagement in their own situation."
This response made me think about the life of a beggar compared to that of a thief. A beggar, in general, sits in one place waiting for passersby to hand them out something. Perhaps they move to different spots every once in a while, but for the most part, they are pretty sedentary. A thief, on the other hand, is active and moves quickly. It would take a lot of energy and skill to be able to follow along with a thief, and if you are more of an adventure traveler, perhaps this would be something that appeals more, rather than sitting on a sidewalk at the city train station.
In any case, the comments shared by readers brought out some really fascinating viewpoints. There can, of course, be only one winner.
And the Results Are...
So overall, which of the two choices do you think would have been picked more?
Final Score: Out of the seven responses so far, four of them chose to spend the day with a beggar!
My Personal Choice:
I said in the opening remarks that going into this, I already had my preconceived choice. I felt that I would rather spend the day in a new place with a beggar. Although the opposing viewpoint gave me a lot of food for thought, I still stand by my original choice.
For one, the beggar is open and honest about their circumstances, whereas a thief pretends to be something they aren't. I feel I would have more of an open mind to learning the story of a person who is forthright and true about their circumstance. Such and individual I can feel compassion for. A thief may be equally as desperate, otherwise why be a thief, but the level of deception and lies that go along with their lifestyles make it hard for me to have empathy towards them.
Additionally, as an introduction to a new place, what better way to get to see the intricate layers of society than to observe the reactions of the majority of the population towards the lowest of their kin. You can learn a lot about a people based on the way the treat their brothers.
And so, if I traveled to a new place, I would rather spend a day with an openly honest beggar instead of with a deceptive thief.
Besides, as I searched through the photos of thieves, all I found were a bunch of shady looking creeps that I wouldn't wanna be around. What about you?
*Opinions are still welcome for this discussion. Add your thoughts here or in the comments below.
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...