Perhaps I’m a delusional fool.
Perhaps she isn’t actually poor.
Perhaps she’d merely chosen to earn some spare change by singing Middle Eastern songs in the streets of England.
Perhaps she needs to practice her singing and thought she might as well try to earn a few quid while she works through her repertoire.
Perhaps she thought singing in the street doesn’t matter – that she wouldn’t be seen by anyone she knows.
Perhaps she didn’t know she was sitting underneath the window of one of the top ten largest banks in the world.
Perhaps she didn’t understand irony.
Perhaps she thought she was just having fun.
Oh, I know – there are unknowns with her. I know.
If I’ve realised any fact about life it’s that, the whole world over, you’re a fool to believe everything is what it looks like.
But she was hoping for cash. And singing for spare change on a street corner on a Thursday afternoon doesn’t seem a choice taken happily.
Perhaps she was begging. Even if that’s true, there’s then the view that she doesn’t merit anyone’s cash – that she’ll only spend any money she’s given on drugs or drink. Even if that’s true, perhaps we should be finding out why.
And if she was begging then there’ll be people who’ll say her clothes look too modern or too new. (Is there a dress-code for begging? I don’t know.) Even if you accept that accusation, perhaps those are clothes that have been donated to her.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
I can summon all the ‘perhapses’ anyone can imagine.
So, yes –
Perhaps we should always question everything.
But also yes –
I will always mistrust every unproven and quite possibly cynically positive ‘perhaps’ applied to that beggar.
(Sadly, a view that’s cynically positive is nothing new.)
And so that all leaves me with reasonable, reasoned compassion. After all, while it’s wise to question what you see, it’s a better world if you let compassion beat cynicism.
That’s not a bad thing. Perhaps it’s win-win.
It’s a win if my compassion will make her world a little better.
And it’s a win if my compassion prevails, even if her begging is based on lies.
After all, her lies would matter very little. And maybe her guilt would dog her for ever – not that it matters.
I could sleep with the untroubled conscience that ignoring others would deny me.
And compassion for strangers would remain an option for me.
And compassion makes the world a better place for everyone.
Intelligent kindness is a generous thing; intelligent kindness achieves a better world.