By Christopher Simon

Helping Others to Help Themselves

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule:The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10

The nineteenth century British philosopher John Stuart Mill argued persuasively for a variety of social reforms, and especially for state-supported public education, on the grounds that it “is help towards doing without help.” That is, education makes people more likely to be able to take care of themselves and live healthy, independent lives. It may be easier to just give people food or money to meet their immediate needs, but in the long run this may only foster a state of dependency, whereas if we take the time to teach the person how to fend for himself, he might fare better in the long run. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
There are lots of ways in which we can help others to help themselves, whether it is teaching them a skill or trade, or teaching them how to drive or to read. Reading opens doors to a whole world of help, because once you teach someone how to read, it gives them access to the entire fund of human knowledge. We should consider how we might help the people in our community, or even in our own families, to be more independent.