Teach them to fish

“If you give a man a fish when he is hungry, he will return when he gets hungry again but if you teach him to fish he will feed himself.”  This is my interpretation of a saying that many say is derived from the Bible. In fact this is not a fact, though the principle can be derived from Biblical virtue. The origin of his saying have been said to come from Chinese, Native American, Italian, Indian, and Biblical teachings.  While the actual origin is not important the message it conveys is.

America is a society with a conscience. We like to take care of our own and we like to provide aid to the rest of the world. There is no greater benevolent country than the United States and there has been no greater time in the history of the world than what America is doing to help the world than what we are doing today. This is a wonderful expression of compassion and generosity but as another adage states, “you can get too much of a good thing”. This is where our fishing parable kicks in.

Louisiana is a flagship example of pulling the oppressed up and providing opportunities for those in need; feeding a man when hungry.  It is also an example of making efforts to teaching man to fish.  It is also an example of how failure can take place if there is no plan to ween a man from fishing except to assume that the weening wlill automatically take place.

In the 1920s Louisiana was in a sad situation. Poverty was extreme and education was lacking.  There was less than 100 miles of paved roads in the state. Louisiana was viewed as a backwater state and for good reason. Power was centered in New Orleans in the hands of a small group of individuals that wielded dictatorial control. The poorer and least educated the populace the easier it was to control the state.  

I remember a man telling me that children would go out at lunch and sit on the school steps and pull out a cold potato to eat for lunch. School books were not free and students that were fortunate enough to afford them would have to buy them. If a person wanted to go to college the arduous trip was long and the education at the Louisiana flagship university, LSU, was considered to be second rate by the majority of America. All that changed with the Huey Long administration.  

Louisiana adopted a free lunch plan for those in need. Text books were provided by the state.  Colleges popped up around the state so that education was within reach of a large number of citizens. The nation adopted much of the Louisiana model and the country has been a much better place to live. America expanded its support for the oppressed and as this grew the expansion grew to those that were not in dire need and then expanded to include almost everyone. America was being fed fish and over time the ability to fish was diminished.  

The pandemic provided a catalyst to encourage more and more support to the individual and by doing so there has been little weening from the government support systems. Unfortunately there are consequences and Americans will loose their individual identity, loose the ability for individual achievement and loose the opportunity to attempt to achieve their desired goals.  When the spirit is broken it is only a matter of time and the nation breaks.  Eventually we become totally socialistic at best and communistic at worse.  Religion, a communistic target for elimination, continues to be under attack by many in power.

Let us hope that our governments and the citizens of our great nation opt to teach a man to fish instead of simply feeding him. This has been observed by many areas of the world.  Chairman Mao, father of the Chinese communistic party once stated that America needs to understand that, “it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish?”

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day. God Bless America and Pray for the Ukraine.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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