Friday, April 22, 2011

Feeling Sorry for People

  Oh, Boo Hoo!  Get Over it!

In reading this blog, you may come away with the impression that I don't suffer fools gladly.  Actually, I don't suffer them at all.   And as far as I can tell, the U.S. Constitution has no clause requiring that we cater to idiots.

Now some folks may say, "Well, that is heartless!  Don't you feel sorry for those less fortunate than yourself?"

And yes, we all feel sorry for people wiped out by a Tsunami.  But to feel sorry for someone who charges too much on their credit card - someone who makes poor choices in life, over and over again - is an entirely different thing.

And if by "feeling sorry" for someone who makes poor financial choices in life, I end up enabling their lifestyle more, am I really being empathetic, or just horribly, horribly evil?

When I give money to a panhandler so he can buy drugs, and keep living under a bridge for another day, am I being a "nice guy" or just handing him a loaded handgun with one ceremonial bullet and saying "go ahead, blow your brains out!"

If I "bail out" a friend or relative who squanders their money on Jet Skis and Cable TV while not funding my own retirement, am I really "helping" them, or just being doubly stupid by enabling their poor financial choices and impoverishing myself?

Being kind to people often means you have to be firm, and that means you can't be sympathetic to people when they do stupid things, make poor choices, and try to destroy themselves.

And while some may think that sounds "harsh" it is actually the greatest kindness in the world.

A parent who never disciplines their child is not doing the child a "favor" or being "kind" to that child.  Because what will happen to that child, later in their life, is that life itself will "discipline" them, and they will look on, in wonderment, why things are not always going their own way anymore.  It is all so unfair!  After all, Mommy and Daddy always gave them everything they wanted!

And the same is true with adults.  When you enable poor choices in a person's life, they will continue to keep making them - whether it is drug abuse, alcohol abuse, over-spending, poor financial planning, or whatever.

And this applies on a governmental level as well as a personal one.  When our government encourages consumption and discourages saving, it enables a lifestyle that, well, has nearly bankrupted our country.  When you give hand-outs to your "needy siblings" you don't help them, you merely train them to be needy and depend on you for handouts.

Lao Tsu said it best - you give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.   Was he being "harsh" in suggesting that people need to learn to take care of themselves?    If you think that forcing people to be responsible is "harsh" then is advice is harsh as well.

Feeling sorry for people or being altruistic can be an evil thing.  As I have noted before, many people actually like lording over others, handing out pittances, and keeping others in a perpetual state of dependency.

Sorry, but no.  It is very hard to "feel sorry for" the vast majority of Americans, whose problems are largely self-inflicted.  What they need is not a handout, but discipline.

Discipline - the subject for my next posting....