I don’t remember exactly where I was going that morning, but I was walking towards the roadside. This was about 15 years ago. I was rudely intercepted by a girl who lived in a house close to ours.
In a teary but forceful tone, she narrated that she was sent by her mom to buy 3 eggs and she broke all accidentally. She commandingly requested that I give her money to buy one at least.
I reached into my pocket, sort out some coins in my palm and gave her the price of one egg. Without saying “thank you”, she said back to me, “so why can’t you just give me the price for all three”.
I was dumbfounded. It sounded so rude, especially since she spoke the words in Ewe. With a deep breath, I handed her the money. This time, she said thanks and hurried off.
The first instinct I had was to ask myself “how stupid can you be? This girl was supposed to beg you. It was your money. Instead, she spoke so proudly and you still gave it to her?”
I encouraged myself that it was not a big deal and that I had done the right thing.
Through the ages, people’s reaction in similar situations have taught me, it was actually a big deal that day. I have seen firsthand that when in the position to help others, many people use it as an opportunity to exercise control over them.
They want to make demands. They want to lord over the people. Worst, should the person sound the least offensive, they capitalize on that to penalize them heavily. That shouldn’t be so.
The essence of helping someone is to solve a problem in the world. And whether the person sounds impolite or not, the problem must still be solved.
Therefore, assisting a person should not be based on them begging for it or becoming slaves to us.
We must help people just because of who we are. We are kind, gracious and good-willed. So regardless of what the people do or don’t do, say or don’t say, we should not fail to express who we are at heart.
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