Posts Tagged ‘pelican’

Did you catch that fish?

May 11, 2010

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” How do you best help someone who is struggling? If third-world natives are living in poverty, should we send them money? Or could we teach them how to plant crops or provide a goat that will nourish their family and allow them to sell the excess milk? If an unmarried woman has a child, should we reward her for having additional children in the way of living quarters and medical care, or is there perhaps a better method for teaching responsibility? If a person is out of work, is it more helpful to once again extend benefits, or to teach more effective ways of finding or creating productive work?

Years ago, in Monterey, California, a crisis arose. Monterey had become a paradise for pelicans. After cleaning their fish, the local fishermen would throw all the excess waste to the pelicans. The birds soon became fat and lazy.

Eventually, a new market was found that could use the waste products commercially. The pelicans no longer had a free meal. Yet, the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves. Generations had been trained to just wait and wait they did for the free handouts that never came. Many starved to death. They seemed to have forgotten how to fish for themselves.

There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap — Old Proverb

In our “instant” society it’s often easier and quicker for everyone involved to just “give” something. Teaching takes time and commitment. And catching fish requires baiting the hook, finding the right conditions, and waiting.