The venerable Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definition for compassion: “Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
By alleviating it, we must–must–mean supplying the needed relief, stabilizing the patient in medical terms, along with helping the person, the patient again in medical terms, through motivation and training, to then live a full and independent life whenever at all possible. Promoting policies that would have any tendency to make people dependent upon either private charity or taxpayer largess is deeply wrong for that person, all the others like them, and all of society. And in the name of compassion, that is exactly what we are doing with increasing frequency and scope. And we are creating an ever-growing disaster.
That is the subject of today’s episode.
Pause for key definitions:
- Hand-outs. This approach to so-called compassion which provides continuing assistance without the motivation and training required for the person you are assisting to be able to–and want to–become an independent and contributing adult. This approach is lazy and long-term destructive. This is the very definition of mis-directed compassion.
- Hand-ups. This much more difficult approach that includes–emphasizes–helping others to become an independent and contributing adult requires more of our personal time, and less taxpayer money. Remember, governments, no matter how much tax money they collect, are terrible at motivating. And long-term, this approach produces people who have good cause to be pleased with themselves and their contribution, and creates a healthy and growing society. Growing in the right way and in the right direction.
Today’ key point: We need hand-ups, not hand-outs. But the hand-ups require us, you and me–to get personally involved.
John Ray, in 1670, cited as a proverb “Hell is paved with good intentions.” Even earlier than that, it’s been attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), as “Hell is full of good intentions or desires.”
“The road to personal, societal and national hell is paved with mis-directed compassion in the form of continuing hand-outs.” Will Luden, 2019
Question: What are our intentions?
- Do politicians want effective and productive long-term solutions, or do they simply want to hold office long-term? Do any of them honestly believe that making everything from healthcare to education to food and housing (with more to follow quickly) free for life will create a hard-working and well equipped society? A society ready and able to take on the frequently serious issues facing us personally and as a whole?
- Do we want to follow paths that will require us to do the work, the continuing hard work, to become our best at being productive and contributing citizens, or do we want reasons–excuses–to take easier paths?
Let’s draw some useful parallels here. Here are some commercial pitches we have all heard:
- Diet: “It’s not your fault, it’s genetic. Take this pill daily, eat your normal diet, and you will lose weight. Millions already have. What are you waiting for?”
- Exercise: “Skip the gym. In just minutes a day, do these few simple exercises and be amazed as you drop weight, gain muscle and feel better than you have in decades. And take our muscle-building supplements.”
- Money (1). “We know what the credit card companies aren’t telling you. You don’t have to pay for the products and services you bought; call us and watch us reduce your obligations to something you can handle.”
- Money (2). “Don’t let the IRS hound you for the money you owe. Call us and we can settle your debt to the government for pennies on the dollar.”
All of the companies behind these commercials are saying the same things: 1. Whatever it is, it is not your fault. 2. The solution is easy. 3. You need to take very little–if any–personal responsibility. Just pay us, and we’ll make it all better.
The last two, the ones dealing with money, are even more insidious. One blames the credit card companies and the other blames the IRS. Without even a whisper about personal responsibility, and how to avoid incurring heavy debt like this again in the future. And it gets worse. When the credit card companies lose money because some folks don’t pay, that drives everyone else’s rates up. Not paying what is owed winds up costing others who use credit cards. The same with money that is owed to the IRS. To the extent that certain people do not pay what they owe, their fellow taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
Now, Will, why are these useful parallels? Good question. The politicians promising free stuff in return for votes are also saying that whatever the reason is that you need assistance has absolutely nothing to do with you. Someone else did it to you, making you a victim, and a deserving one at that. In fact, if personal responsibility is brought up, you might hear today’s most incorrectly and over used word; racist.
The pitches, the commercials I cited asking for money, are scams. As are the pitches, the commercials asking for votes. Don’t fall for a single one of them.
Being personally responsible is hard. But then again, life is hard. For more on that, please go to, Life is Hard–As It Should Be (EP. 106).
And we all need to get personally involved. Personally. For a deeper dive here, go to, The Heartbeat of Revolution 2.0™: 2 Degrees of Separation (EP. 157.)
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
- Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.