Saturday, April 05, 2008

Stupid Welfare Mentality

Yesterday afternoon, a dear friend and business associate did me a big favor, meeting me at a WalMart parking lot to finalize the arrangement. While we were standing beside our trucks, a lady walked up and presented to us beaded key chains with notes attached indicating that she was deaf and was selling these for $2.00 each.

I gave her $2.00 and declined the key chain, not needing one but not having the heart to turn down a deaf person seeking to earn some money. My friend had a handful of change and gave her that, also declining the key chain.

Today as I thought about this I realized that I should have received the key chain or declined the offer altogether. What I did was exactly the same foolishness that the government does with its welfare mentality.

While I cannot know for certain that this woman’s claim to deafness is legitimate and not scamming people, what I saw in her eyes told me that I had made a mistake. I sensed it at the time and have realized it more fully the day after.

What was my mistake? I robbed this lady of the joy of producing something and receiving compensation in exchange for her product. I robbed her of the dignity of contributing to society by working and putting her ingenuity into practice. Her eyes showed disappointment, but then she gave a gracious gesture of thanks with her hand and mouth.

At the time my actions seemed like the loving thing to do. In retrospect I see that this was not a gesture of true love. Love would have shown this lady genuine respect. What I did was really to demean her and to discount her attempt at productivity. My action was one of wanting to do the right thing, which is not the same as acting in response to true love.

Now I can certainly name a number of things about this situation that call her motives and her approach into question. That is not the point. Even if she were a scam artist, my actions and motives are the point. There is a lesson in this, from which I hope to learn and to grow.

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