Tuesday, November 25, 2014


How do I teach my two children about compassion? The poor here in Hong Kong present themselves so differently from the poor in the United States. I remember the first time I saw a person begging on the streets here in Hong Kong. The photo on the right of the woman on her hands and knees with a bowl placed before her for pedestrians to drop coins into. Sometimes I see bills laying in the dish as well. But this posture is the epitome of desperation. I'll admit it gets to me every time I see someone begging.

The other morning as we were waiting for the bus to pick our kids up for school, there was a man waiting at the bus stop. I'd heard about this man from my husband, but I didn't know what he looked like.

As we were walking up, my daughter told me it was the man who always asked my husband for money. She asked me if she could give him something to eat and drink. When my children feel led by compassion I always accommodate them, for the greatest thing I can do is create an attitude of love to permeate their characters.

We made a detour into the 7-11 convenience store, where she picked out a loaf of bread and a bottle of water. As we made our way to the bus stop, she held out her offerings to the man that likes to beg. After finishing a drag from his cigarette, he accepted the bottle of water and shook his hand no to the proffered loaf of bread.

We stood in line for our bus to arrive, but them the man would not leave us alone. He continued to pester us. Because of the language barrier we have no idea what he was really asking for. He kept holding up two fingers. My kids interpreted it as, "Mom, he wants two more bottles of water." Or, "Mom he wants two newspapers." I knew what he wanted and eventually my son guessed it, "Mom he wants money."

And that's where I said no to my kids. I told them we would help him by buying him some food or some water, but we would not just give him money. My kids get it. They understand.

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