Best Read::Eyes – 12/22/09

Parang kinurot puso ko ng nabasa ko ito.

Beggars however—and their tribe increases by the day in various forms of disguised beggary, from caroling to slapping soapy water on your windshield—are not so easily dismissed in the heart. I’ve always thought they posed a bind, even to the mind.The best way to deal with them of course is to not look them in the eye. At the very least that’s so because eye-contact is the equivalent of the first question you ask the salesperson who knocks on your door. As everyone warns, never do that. Just say, “Sorry,” if you’re in the mood to be polite or slam the door on his face if you’re not. You ask a question and that’s his one foot in the door, which can sometimes be scarily literal.But more than that, don’t look the ragged children in the eye because if you do, you impale their fleeting forms into reality. You transform a vague and abstract presence into living tissue, into flesh and bone, into solid matter, as solid as the loud rap on your window. You look them in the eye, and suddenly, terrifyingly, movingly, you’re no longer looking at a formless mass, you are looking at a four-year-old—if he’s at all so, it’s not easy to reckon age in age-worn faces—trudging along with not much older company, a torn and worn-out T-shirt hanging over his body like a tent.But this best way of dealing with the problem is the same best way to make the problem stay. Which is the bind. I’ve always thought the only reason we’ve kept out equanimity in the face of the teeming poverty around us, some of its aspects too mind-boggling to contemplate, is that it is invisible to us. It is invisible to us because we do not see it. We do not see it because we do not look it in the eye. And because we do not look it in the eye, the poor, like beggars, or carolers on the street, cease to exist. They are just a blur, a ghost, an apparition that flits by but is swallowed in the dust and smoke when the light flashes green.By all means let us not give to carolers on the streets, or out-and-out beggars who badger us with their pain and their humiliation. Though heaven knows that isn’t always easy during Christmas, a season dedicated to discovering the existence of others. But whether we give or not, the point is to not be blind to their being there, to not make them disappear in the mind, if not in space, because they are an inconvenient truth. They will continue to be there in space, whether we see them of not: the beggars, the throwers of soapy water on windshields, the children in the streets, who while waiting for the cars to stop stand in awe before the tailoring shop near where I live, admiring the basketball uniforms that proclaim various teams. They will continue to be there, like an indictment, like an accusing finger, like a question hanging in the air demanding an answer.Like eyes that haunt. Like eyes that bind.

via Eyes – 12/22/09.