Give! (March 26, 1944)
Do any of those people in their warm and cosy living rooms have any idea what kind of life a beggar leads?
Do any of those "good" and "kind" people ever wonder about the lives of so many of the children and adults around them? Granted, everyone has given a coin to a beggar at some time or another, though they usually just shove it into his hand and slam the door. And in most cases the generous donors think it's disgusting to touch that hand! Am I right or not? Then, afterwards, people are amazed that beggars are so shameless! Wouldn't you be shameless too if you were treated more like a dog than a human being?
It's terrible, really terrible, that people treat each other this way in a country like Holland, which claims to have such a good social system and so many decent, upstanding citizens. In the eyes of most of the well-to-do, a beggar is an inferior being, somebody who's scruffy and unwashed, pushy and rude. But have they ever asked themselves how beggars got to be that way?
You should try comparing one of those beggar children with your own children! What's the difference? Yours are pretty and neat, the others are ugly and ragged! Is that all? Yes, that's all, that's the only difference. If you dressed one of those urchins in nice clothes and taught him good manners, there wouldn't be a whit of difference!
Everyone is born equal; we all come into the world helpless and innocent. We all breathe the same air, and many of us believe in the same God. And yet, to many people this one small difference is a huge one! It's huge because many people have never realized what the difference is, for if they had they would have discovered long ago that there's actually no difference at all!
Everyone is born equal; we will all die and shed our earthly glory. Riches, power and fame last for only a few short years. Why do we cling so desperately to these fleeting things? Why can't people who have money more than enough for their own needs give the rest to their fellow human beings? Why should anyone have to have such a hard life for those few short years on earth?
But above all, a gift should never be flung in anyone's face - every person has a right to kindness. Why should you be nicer to a rich lady than to a poor one? Has anyone ever studied the difference in their characters?
Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness. If we were to start by adding to that goodness instead of stifling it, by giving poor people the feeling that they too are human beings, we wouldn't necessarily have to give money or material things, since not everyone has them to give.
Everything starts in small ways, so in this case you can begin in small ways too. On streetcars, for example, don't just offer your seat to rich mothers, think of the poor ones too. And say "excuse me" when you step on a poor person's toe, just as you say it to a rich one.
It takes so little effort, yet it means so much. Why shouldn't you show a little kindness to those poor urchins who are already so deprived?
We all know that "example is better than precept." So set a good example, and it won't take long for others to follow. More and more people will become kind and generous, until finally no one will ever again look down on those without money.
Oh, if only we were already that far! If only Holland, then Europe, and finally the whole world realized how unfair it was being, if only the time would come when people treated each other with genuine good will, in the realization that we're all equal and that worldly things are transitory!
How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world! How wonderful it is that everyone, great and small, can immediately help bring about justice by giving of themselves!
As with so many things, most people seek justice in very different quarters, and grumble because they themselves receive so little of it.
Open your eyes, be fair in your own dealings first! Give whatever there is to give! You can always—always—give something, even if it's a simple act of kindness! If everyone were to give in this way and didn't scrimp on kindly words, there would be much more love and justice in the world!
Give and you shall receive, much more that you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor!
If you follow this advice, within a few generations, people will never have to feel sorry for poor little beggar children again, because there won't be any!
The world has plenty of room, riches, money and beauty. God has created enough for each and every one of us. Let us begin by dividing it more fairly.