In many countries especially in the West, begging is considered a contemptible occupation practiced in order to receive money dishonestly for obtainment of food, drugs or alcohol. Historically however, the western tradition has been known for respecting beggars such as Diogenes of Sinope and Lazarus. I am the least of these, were the words Jesus is recorded as saying in the bible about less fortunate people, beggars included. In many countries of the east like India, Japan and others begging can be considered a spiritual occupation, which frees the beggar from material concerns such as labor for money and keeps them on the path to enlightenment.
I was interested in the attitudes and behavior of people towards someone in a position of a supplicant. My decision was to beg for something considered non-material – a word. The experience was humbling. Many people did not look at my sign and thought I was asking for money. They avoided my gaze, completely ignored me, or walked a large circle around me. I felt that I was putting them in an uncomfortable position of having to make a decision about giving. On the other hand, twenty-eight people chose to give a word. This relationship between those in need and those with resources plays out on a regional and world scale and the decisions to give or not to give are crucial to our future.
Monument to the hopeful beggarMonument to the hopeful beggarMonument to the hopeful beggar