The Importance of Self-Reliance
There have been quite a number of programs set up by the government in addition to well-meaning individuals to aid those in need. The problem with most of these programs is that they are stuck on the short-sighted view of “helping people” as opposed to “helping people help themselves”.
Consider this story taken from the October 1950 issue of Reader’s Digest:
“In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved…
“The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the…sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.
“Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ’something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.
“A lot of people are like that too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ’shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?
“Let’s not be gullible gulls. We…must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.”
It’s hard to believe that article was written over 60 years ago! Yet, this story’s message is as relevant today as ever.
Wealth Without Work
Mahatma Ghandi wisely said that one of the seven deadly sins is “wealth without work”. This practice of desiring and receiving benefits which haven’t been earned has become so prevalent in our society that even the wealthiest expect the government to give them a handout (does Bank of America, Citi, AIG and GM come to mind?). This practice, if allowed to become universally accepted in a society, will force its citizens into slavery.
The problem of entitlements and handouts isn’t exclusively a government problem. Many well-meaning parents dole out resources and keep their kids on the “family udder” well beyond what is necessary. This in many ways is worse than a government handout because it teaches that dependency is acceptable.
Some key questions that should come to the minds of any responsible parent are, “Am I teaching my children self-reliance?” or “Am I leading them to be independent?”. Of course, you can only teach what you know yourself so remember that achieving self-reliance yourself should be your first priority.
Self-reliance is not so much the gaining of a particular skill-set (although that is part of it), rather it’s a mindset.
To become self-reliant requires a conscious effort of replacing an “I need help” attitude with an “I can do it myself” attitude. And the best part of becoming self-reliant is that it rewards you along the way. As you achieve even a small portion of it, you feel really good about yourself.
Self-reliance and Liberty
Developing self-reliance is what leads to independence and independence is at the core of liberty. Liberty and self-reliance are so closely intertwined that a nation whose citizens lose their self-reliance will eventually lose their liberty — a sad truth we are witnessing today.
For this reason it’s so important that each of us take an honest look at ourselves and our families and ask whether we are striving to be self-reliant or looking for a handout. With that said, don’t be a “gullible gull”. Look for areas in your own life where you can become more self-reliant and less dependent upon the government or others. Our nation depends on it…
- Posted in Self-Reliance