Commentary by Rev. Michael VandenBerg
I recently attended a Q&A session with several politicians who outlined a number of initiatives that would improve the quality of life for the citizens of Indianapolis and all of Indiana. I applaud the efforts to work for answers to the problems of drugs, violence, alcoholism, dropout rates, welfare abuse and much more. I am glad that Indiana is blessed with people from both parties that truly are looking for solutions.
What I quickly noticed however was that all of these were remedial in nature. All of them were treating symptoms that had become the problem. To me, this is much the same as when my grandmother use to say, “There is no sense closing the barn door after the horse has left”. Why not address the causes of the problems we face instead of simply the symptoms.
Actions that enslave people, diminish family life, remove personal responsibility and negate our freedom to choose, are all things that plague our current culture and lead to the string of problems that we are and will forever address.
Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie’s novel, “Mrs. Dymond” is oft quoted saying; “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The meaning is simple; it is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something than to do it for him.
The Bible says much the same when in Matthew 9 it says, When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus never promised that he would take care of peoples every need. In fact his Apostle, Paul said “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” It says nothing about those unable to work, only those unwilling. When we make people dependent upon the government, organization, even the church for our welfare, we have led them into slavery. When we remove people’s desire to work or serve, when we absolve them of personal responsibility or its consequences, then we are the ones who have enslaved, diminished and absolved. Compassion is not taking over the care of another but is the assistance toward self-care that assists another. Let us all work toward the welfare of all by working toward their freedom, responsibility and independence. After all, this is what our founders fought and died to give us.