A reader who goes by the handle of "3Peaches" recently re-read all the comments on my original The Ant and the Grasshopper post.
A little bit of history: I didn't write this post. It was just one of those things circulating around the internet. But I thought it was apt, so I posted it... little realizing how it would ignite a firestorm of comments, both supportive and snarky.
Both the post and the resulting comments sparked a WorldNetDaily column entitled Ants, Grasshoppers, and God which, I believe, turned out to be one of the better columns I've written.
Anyway, that's the history behind the post. But recently 3Peaches re-read the comments and became fired up all over again (before going any further, it might behoove everyone to go back and re-read the comments). She wrote a long rebuttal to the snarkers, and since it was too long to post as a comment, she emailed it to me separately. I thought it was excellent and asked her permission to post it here.
Her original email to me is as follows:
It’s been a year and a half since you wrote on this topic, both on your blog and on WND. Yet it becomes ever more relevant. I see the most recent comment on your blog was added just a few weeks ago. I suspect it will continue to be a hot topic, as two elements serve to keep it simmering: our increasingly socialistic gummint, along with increasingly pressed citizens who are already battling the wolf at the door. Add to the mix the pious-sounding do-gooders who know better than you what your own moral obligations are, and one gets the sense things could well reach the boiling point before too much longer.
As I read last night through the comments left after your excellent blog on “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” I wrote the response below. I couldn’t help reacting to the just-don’t-get-its –- it’s exasperating not so much because their views are privately held (which is of course their right), but because they don’t stay private. They reflect the prevailing fuzzy-headed attitudes that are defining my liberties and impacting my life.
So… I wrote. That’s how I offload my frustration when I can’t interact directly. (Perhaps you know that feeling.)
Without further ado, here is 3Peaches' views on the Ant and the Grasshopper.
There appear to be some emotional, knee-jerk reactions and accusations in these comments. Let’s take a look. FYI: I am not angry or hostile. But, being more concerned with what’s true and right than what’s politically correct, I will call out hypocrisy.
1. For those quoting Scripture in an attempt to shame Patrice and folks agreeing with her statements: It is hypocrisy to cherry-pick the Scriptures that support your point while discounting the others that speak to the same topic, and then pass your view off as “the” Christian view. You cannot presume to bind someone else’s conscience (and behavior) with your favorite lines isolated from their context, while ignoring the rest that provide a balanced representation of God’s views about our charitable concern for one another. If you are arguing from the standpoint of Christianity and the Bible, you must accept all of its counsel on the subject.
As has been ably documented by others, the issue is not whether to help those who are needy because of sickness, financial hardships, and so on; so stop with the straw man arguments and posing as though you have the moral high ground. Anyone who has the love of God in their hearts is eager to help those in genuine need, exactly as the Bible instructs us to do. However, that same Bible explicitly instructs us not to help the able-bodied who simply refuse to work. To do so is a disservice to everyone involved, and direct disobedience to God. Period. End of discussion.
2. For those of you alleging racism behind the position expressed here: Shame on you. What petty tyrants you are, pulling the race card to bully others into silence. Where do you find a racial element suggested in the remarks offered? Sloth and greed and selfishness know no boundaries of skin color – or of hair color, height, weight, nationality, or any other trait. They are deficits of human character. Period. Enough of your hypocrisy in calling others racist, when it is your own racism that insists on framing everything in racial terms.
3. Let’s bring this down to a personal example.
You have two nephews. Both are out of work. Both end up on your doorstep. You are already working two jobs to try to support your own family in hard times, but you don’t want to turn away someone who’s homeless and in need. So you take them in.
Nephew A is a hard worker. He is distressed over his situation. He combs the newspapers and online listings daily and applies for any job he can. Meanwhile, he shows his gratitude for your help by mowing your lawn, washing the dishes, and having dinner started by the time you get home from work. He tries to pull his own weight.
Nephew B is a freeloader. He’s perfectly comfortable living off your largesse. He sleeps until noon, watches TV and plays video games all day, complains if the food isn’t to his liking, whines about others being the cause of all his problems, and is in no hurry to get a job. Neither does he do anything around the house; he must be reminded repeatedly just to take out the trash.
If you tell me you have the same level of desire to continue supporting both of these nephews with your hard-earned dollars, forgive me for not believing you. Both justice and common sense require us to draw a distinction between the two. Really – how long before you toss Nephew B out on his keester?
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you have been brainwashed and “guilted” enough by liberal churches and politicians that you feel convinced it really is your Christian duty to treat both nephews equally.
That brings us to an ancillary point: enablers and tough love.
Every person of goodwill longs to “fix” things for others we see in need. Yet if we can’t or won’t arrive at a balance in our views, we risk becoming enablers of those who are simply freeloaders: those who persist in behaving badly and making poor choices, with the expectation – nay, the demand – that others save them from the consequences of their folly.
Enter “tough love.” To keep on saving people from themselves only enables them to continue the behavior that is holding them back and hurting them (and those affected by them). We have to love such people enough to let them suffer the consequences of their choices. Tough love. That’s what moves us beyond smarmy emotion to caring about someone enough risk their wrath, if need be, in their best interests. Calling a halt to their gravy train will likely make them angry and abusive (maybe they’ll even call you racist!) – but will hopefully help them to learn the benefits of making wiser choices, accepting responsibility, and ultimately having a productive, fulfilling life.
But let’s add another dimension: Suppose you have come to terms with the fact that you are enabling Nephew B and doing him no favors. Desiring to help him get on with his life in positive, constructive ways, you fashion a plan that will teach him that his behavior is tied to consequences, whether good or bad. You offer to provide him with benefits according to his meeting certain reasonable expectations – all with his ultimate good in mind. Then along come the do-gooders who tell you that you must continue supporting your freeloading slob of a nephew with your hard-earned money. You’re not allowed to attach any prerequisites to his mooching or threaten him with eviction. He is simply entitled to presume on your support. This is somehow your obligation.
What’s wrong with this picture? It’s simple: Not only is this grossly unfair to you, it is in no way helpful to him. Everybody loses. This is true on a personal level. It is true at a governmental level.
Perhaps – just perhaps – that is why God in His love and wisdom made the rules:
(1) Always help those in genuine need, showing them practical love however you can.
(2) Never enable the slothful and selfish, but let them suffer the consequences of their folly, that they may learn thereby. This, too, is love.