“Unemployment is a characteristic unique to the human species only. All the other creatures and creations seem to know what they are supposed to do.” This was a quote ascribed to an unnamed economist who I am sure had his tongue half-squished into his cheek, but it is a thought provoker. Of course, the human condition means we can demonstrate compassion to those who have not and who cannot, whereas the animal world rarely shows that (dolphins, whales?).
My question, which might invite challenge, is – should we be so compassionate towards those who will not?
As a police officer, I met people of all three ‘persuasions’. I met the poor, the challenged and the disabled, who to my mind represented the have not and cannot and for whom I had some sympathy. But for too often, and presumably because of the circumstances surrounding the ‘call for service’ that resulted in our meeting, I met those who would not.
Those who would not work in case it made them have to get up in the morning. Those who would not because it involved being subject to supervision and rules. Those who would not because of the inconvenience. They would do one thing – they would go and collect their benefits and then pop next door – and it was next door – to buy their beer. Then they would go out and steal and rob ‘because they needed money to live, Your Worship’.
In a nutshell, there are those who can’t exercise the Three Resolutions, there are those who don’t know how to exercise them, and there are those who won’t.
And there are those who defend the latter by lumping them in with the former. They make excuses and seek evidence to justify their findings. Instead of giving them a metaphorical slap and showing them how to get a grip, they pander to their failings instead.
Fortunately, there are also those who come half way, giving that metaphorical slap and then helping them to discover a new sense of personal discipline, a new and better sense of character and new competencies. And my experience suggests that those who are helped to achieve and execute those First and Second Resolution ethics frequently go on and execute the Third Resolution in ‘paying forward’ what they were given, to the benefit of all.
I love seeing that. I love seeing people rescued from hopeless and useless to helpful and useful. I remain scathing towards those who are useless and hopeless but who revel in it and demand respect for it.
And I feel that way because, unlike animals, such people – all people – have the ability and capability to do and be better because they have a choice. Animals are usually led by instinct. A dog chases a car but probably doesn’t know why. A human who ‘is’ useless is well capable of choosing better and should be encouraged and helped to do so.
Once. Maybe twice. Maybe even three times. But after that – let the wolves have them. Wolves know what they’re there for.