‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life,’ is a well-known Chinese proverb. These few words are easy to translate from Chinese language but its application, to me, was very hard as I grew up. I had to go through a journey of confusions about charity, before I reached a single point. In my earlier teens, I thought I could not “teach a man to fish”, so according to my limited resources as a young boy, I had to concentrate on “giving a man a fish”. But even by limiting charity, I still had to go through few stages.
As taught by my religion and parents, in early stages of my charity-giving age, I used to pay few coins from my limited pocket money as a boy, to almost every panhandler, and things went on.
Then, there came the second stage, which was a result of few speculations around. There were talks that the money we pay as a charity is being used in drugs and things other than necessities. So, I had to spend this small stage without any charity.
Shortly after, the third stage came, because of a teacher’s discussion in classroom. A teacher, who was well known for his niggardliness, but equally well known for teaching hundreds of students without caring for their fees. His words were, “Look, gentlemen! Whosoever beg from you, help them, it’s upon their God and them whether they were actually in need of it or not”. Since he was a very hardworking and favorite teacher, I kept his words and hence put aside all my confusions about charity.
There arose another confusion when the terrorist activities in the country reached its peak. The country’s institutions, besides strict actions against its elimination, issued few instructions to the public, in which “charitable money should not go in wrong hands” was one.
Now, charity, as mentioned in the Quran, dispels calamities, but the confusion was whom to give. I do not have the eye to locate who is using my charitable money in terrorist activities and who not.
Luckily, by the time, I entered twenties and my own vision to judge the things was developed. So, I discovered my own way of charity. Now, if any panhandler asks me for money, I ask the necessity. Most of the times they say of eatables. So, I take them to a nearby cheap hotel, as a student’s affordability is, and buy food for them in front of them. Then, in a serious, bit harsh tone, ask them to earn respectable meals, rather than those with harsh tones, as of mine.
Man evolves till alive. But after going through a journey, to me, this technique is the better one till now. Because charity is being done in shape of eatables, so I am following the Quran, money is not going in wrong hands – so I am assisting my institutions, whether the panhandlers actually need the food or not, I am giving – so my teacher’s words are kept, and most importantly, the food will feed them and their children for a day – but my reiteration on earning respectable food in bit harsh tone may awaken their inner selves.
I hope and pray these few words of mine make way to “teach a man to fish” and hence feed them for life.