Thoughts on Compassion

Friday, July 23, 2010

We were seated round the table. It was eight thirty and we were in English Lit Class.

I was joining a poetry slam Ms Amy had organized for Edison, and said the proceeds from the program would raise money for a poor entrepreneur who needed a loan in South America. I was trying to figure out how much money was to be raised, when suddenly Paik Suan started talking. Here's the convo:

Paik Suan: "You know, Aunty Amy, wouldn't that money do so much more good for like some orphans in starving Ghana or something? Why waste it on some fella who's just trying to start his own little business in who knows where?"

Ms. AMy: "Well, we support this loan program, under KIVA, because it's basically to give the businessman-to-be some dignity when he starts his business. We don't just want to throw out money to the masses, and have them eat it constantly, without ever climbing out. It's to get people out of the poverty line, without the bailouts and such."

PS shakes her head. "I still think it ought to be given somewhere else."

I was sorting this all out, and then I spoke, suddenly, and a bit awkwardly too. "But It's the individual that counts. Sure, that money could go somewhere else, it always will! But our job is not to bailout money just so we can meet a quota. It's about helping the world around us, one man and woman at a time. It's all about that one person! It is so worth it -trying to make that one man's life different, regardless whether he lived in Ethiopia or Japan. It doesn't matter."

PS rolls her eyes. Josh is on his crusades again. Charles guffaws. WHy did I bother trying to reason with logical, practical, PS with philosophy? I sighed, a little embarassed by the scene I'd made.

I returned to my seat, and class resumed again.