The worst thing you can do to a person is to meet all their needs -- without requiring participation from the person. This is a basic human truth.
I am not talking about the infant, the infirm or the person incapable of doing for himself. I will say again. The worst thing you can do to a person is to meet all their needs. A person -- any person and every person -- needs to provide for himself or herself.
What happens to a muscle that is not used, that never meets resistance? It atrophies and becomes useless, unable to perform the simplest mechanical task when called upon. The same thing is true of a human being who is never called upon to fend for themselves.
If you can break that simple truth down to a level as simple as molecular structure, you can also expand it to groups of people -- or even nations. The best way to enslave a group of people -- and to weaken and destroy the strength and unity of said group, is to meet all their needs, and then stand aside and watch their collective strength -- and ambition -- atrophy, just like the muscle groups that are never used.
The federal government has known this for a long time. I have spent much of the past week among Native Americans, studying their storied history and culture. I have visited the reservations of certain tribes of the once proud Plains Indians. I have walked among the adobe ruins of the Pecos Pueblos, and I have scaled high ladders and explored the ceremonial caves of the cliff dwellers, high above the Rio Grande canyon floor.
All any of the natives of this continent ever wanted was to be left alone, to hunt and farm and gather and live their lives in harmony with the land which was their mother. But once the Europeans arrived, they were pushed aside and pushed aside and pushed aside. First the interlopers simply wanted the land. Then they wanted more of the land. Then they wanted the minerals and other treasures the land produced.
First the Spanish, then the English and then the blended culture that called themselves Americans fought and conquered the Native Americans. The final solution for subjugating the original inhabitants of this great land was the reservation system. The Indians were told by the "Great White Father" in Washington, D.C., that tribes had to live together on small parcels of land that would not support them. But not to worry. Men called Indian agents -- who might have been the very first folks to claim, "we are from the government and we are here to help you" -- would provide for the tribes, since they could no longer hunt and fish and farm and fend for themselves.
Enter the first American welfare state. Ask any Indian on any reservation how that has worked out for them. Alcoholism and suicide among Native American men who live on reservations is exponentially higher than in the general population. You can look it up.
They are given enough to get by -- and they have come to rely on what they are given. Understand, these people had no choice. Well, they did have one other choice. They could abandon their heritage and live as white people in general society -- which many have done, quite successfully.
And now our government is offering to meet the needs of an even larger group of people. Washington is again saying, "let us take care of you." We have a huge number of the populace -- a larger percentage than at any other time in our history -- willing to allow the government to feed them, clothe them, house them and provide them with medical care.
An alarming number of people are becoming dependent on the federal government for their collective livelihood -- and when you are dependent on the government, you are subjugated by the government. The government of the United States subjugated the Indians by force. It is a matter of historical record. They are subjugating an even larger segment of the population today by a more subtle but equally damaging method. The government is buying votes by taking money from the producers of the nation in the form of taxes and redistributing it to those who have become satisfied on living off the public dole.
And these programs, the ones that right-minded people intended to provide temporary assistance, have turned into entitlements. Poverty begets poverty, and we are creating an entire generation of people who feel that they are entitled to the same things -- for free -- that people have who work and earn them have.
From each, according to his ability, to each according to his need. We are headed down a slippery slope in this country and it is a path that will lead, eventually, to the downfall of this once great nation. Maybe it already has.
The worst thing you can do to a person -- or a people -- is to meet all their needs.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.