Compassion is a true Christian virtue. We should show it whenever someone is in a difficult situation that they have no control over. Enabling is not the same thing as showing compassion, although enablers describe their actions as compassionate. When people are in difficult situations because of irresponsible actions they have taken, they need development not enablement. If they are bailed out of the consequences of their own actions they never learn responsibility. Herbert Spencer said, “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”
There is a time for compassion and development until people are standing on their own two feet. People need help helping themselves. That may take time; support will be important in the interim. But if the development isn’t happening because of laziness, being undisciplined or being distracted by more enjoyable activities, then the irresponsible one may just have to learn the hard way. It is not your job and mine to provide for those who could do it themselves if they cared to. Loafing by enablement becomes a way of life and a drain on everyone else in society.
Suppose humans returned to a hunter/gatherer existence. Would it be un-compassionate to tell a fellow cave dweller, “If you don’t hunt and gather for yourself, you will starve because we will not feed you if you sit around the fire while we are out in the cold finding something to eat?” St. Paul said in Second Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Compassion coupled with responsibility is the path to self -sufficiency. Enablement without development is the path to perpetual poverty. Since President Johnson’s War on Poverty in the late 1960’s the US has spent almost 23 trillion dollars to relieve poverty yet there are more poor people now than then – the fruit of enablement without development. That is why jobs and job training are so crucial. We can keep giving men a fish or we can teach them to fish – the difference between a handout and a hand up.
Knights are compassionate men who first learned to be responsible. Our projects involve providing immediate relief and developing long term personal responsibility and accountability. There is always room for another pair of hands to help us do what we as Catholic men are called to do.
For information on joining the Knights of Columbus / St. Bonaventure Council No. 12240, contact
Grand Knight Jude Hodges (954) 235-4524 [email protected].
Membership Director Joe Cox (954) 614-3209 [email protected]