Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Self Reliance does not mean a handout

Maybe only those who have faced serious hard times during their lives and had to "go it alone" can really understand the principle of self reliance. Many of our country's older people understand this principle, but in the face of the "me" generation, it is doubtful that younger people have even a passing understanding of the concept. Listening to the requests from charity food banks on the radio reminds me of how many people feel that they are entitled to support from the community or the government.

Bishop Keith McMullin, of Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it well,
Many members live in cultures where it can be said that they live in a consumer age. When something wears out or breaks, many of us tend to throw the item away. When we want something we cannot afford, many of us tend to buy it on credit. A surprising number of young homemakers are not adequately skilled at cooking, sewing, gardening, and processing and storing food at home. Also, a surprising number of young breadwinners are not learning to save for the future and are allowing their family units to take on excessive debt. In a time of plenty, when one should consider laying up in store for potentially hard times, many of us consume everything we have—and more!
I heard an interview on the radio of a lady who had lived in her home for over 30 years and was now losing it to a mortgage foreclosure. How sad that she did not know or have the experience necessary to make decisions during those 30 years of home ownership to pay off her mortgage. 

Quoting further from Bishop McMullin,

Modern-day leaders have given specific, inspired guidance for our day about subjects ranging from home storage to debt. President Spencer W. Kimball was very clear about our duty to be self-reliant: “The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.
“No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 77–78).
Although these comments were directed at members of the Church, there is no reason that this principles cannot apply to everyone, no matter what their church affiliation. 

Here is another quote, this one from President Marion G. Romney, of the First Presidency back in 1982,

Since the beginning of time man has been counseled to earn his own way, thereby becoming self-reliant. It is easy to understand the reason why the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself.
On this subject, Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. … That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.” (The Church Welfare Plan, Gospel Doctrine manual, 1946, p. 77.)
Many programs have been set up by well-meaning individuals to aid those who are in need. However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.” Our efforts must always be directed toward making able-bodied people self-reliant.
 If you need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm. 

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