When I was in high school I did a couple stints at the local Catholic food bank where we’d serve lunch for the poor and the homeless. It was an eye-opening experience, of course. No one should be ignorant to the hardships of their neighbors, and in a global economy we are all, essentially, neighbors and connected in some form or another. (Read This: The System is Set Up for You to Succeed)
As I handed out lunches to people smarter than I, much older than I, and much more skilled than I, I began to realize that giving doesn’t solve their problem, only training and teaching could see them get the employment that they need to provide for themselves…
… And make no mistake about it, except for a few weird and rare cases, if people are given a chance to earn a living and get out of poverty, they’ll take the hardest most arduous job and the pride that comes with earning a living over free lunches and government sustenance, few, however, have the skills to warrant a job. Even fewer have the skills necessary to balance a budget, to save, and to accumulate their money.
To oppose this point, a few years ago I was listening to the radio and a local sports caster had a fellow on who’d chosen poverty. This fella wanted the government to subsidize housing in downtown Vancouver so he and his homeless com padres could have a place to live in the city. The sports caster, a guy who earns 6 figures a year, lost it. The logic floored him, a man who works in the heart of the city but lives over an hour drive away because he can’t afford to live in the downtown area, nor anywhere close to it, and raise his children.
So, he drives over an hour to work everyday to support those around him and do what he loves, and this homeless fella wants the sportscaster’s taxes to pay for his subsidized housing so he can live and collect government sustenance without having to work.
He’s chosen poverty and he wants everyone else to pay for it.
There are bad apples in every batch. There are those who are poor who choose this life because of laziness under the guise of a “distaste for material possessions”, yet live in the city instead of in the wilderness. The bad apples need to be rooted out, tossed and discarded and exposed.
The good apples, those who’ve caught a bad break, who want to work but just can’t find employment need to be taught, they do not need hand outs.
Feeding The Body, the Mind, and the Soul
Serving in that soup kitchen was a necessary thing for me to do. I needed to see extreme poverty. I needed to see that there are ambitious people among their ranks. I needed to see how sustenance keeps the homeless without homes, but more importantly, without the pride that comes from earning a living.
When you give someone enough to survive you take away their need to survive on their own.
You and I are likely in a different category. I spent 8 straight months when I first started this business not being able to pay my rent until a couple days after it was due. Some way or another, and always a couple days after it was due, I’d find a way to hustle and eek enough of an income to pay the bills. It was an arduous, stressful 8 months, but I needed to go through it.
I needed to sink or swim.
You’re likely the same. You’ll find a way to thrive and survive because you’re just a bit more ambitious than the average fella. Not everyone is like this. Some won’t go above and beyond, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers. Many of them may work even harder than you or I and if given the right teaching, they too would thrive. Instead, they’re given welfare checks and free food and this does more to break a man’s soul than anything.
When you excuse people from the table that we all sit at, eat at, work at, you remove something so vital from their existence that they give up, and that something is a challenge.
If a man isn’t challenged in some way or another, he’s lost, purposeless, and he’ll likely end up being depressed.
Everyone Needs an Opportunity Disguised as a Challenge
More than anything, more than a free lunch or a welfare check, a man needs a challenge.
More than pills or counseling or empathy, a man needs a challenge.
Think about this in a personal sense, any time you’ve felt down or lost, what’s the one thing that’s forced you to pick yourself up and rise? Think about sports, when you made an error, did your coach feeling sorry for you help or was his challenge to not let it happen again what spurred you on to make up for your mistake?
We all need food and shelter and a challenge.
Challenge those around you to be better, tougher, more resilient. (Read This: You Can Withstand Anything)
More than that, challenge yourself to be better everyday. Give your time to those who are less fortunate. Show them, if you can, how to learn and earn and grow.Take as much burden and responsibility as you can while you’re on this earth because you can handle it.Don’t pity someone, anyone.
In your own life, if someone thinks you to be weak, they’ll give you an excuse. If someone thinks you to be strong, they’ll give you a challenge.