A Nation of Enablers
If you have ever tried to help people who refuse to help themselves, chances are you've learned a painful lesson. Persist as we might, it is a cruel exercise in futility. Though our intent is to help, we're really only enabling, actually aiding in the other party's self-destructive behavior.
Benevolence is instinctive in most of us. We are eager to help those in need, particularly those closest to us: our family members, friends, and co-workers. Often, out of a desire to make a positive difference in the life of someone we care about, we step into the breach, believing we can fix a troubled person or his circumstances.
In doing so, over time we condition ourselves to tolerate the intolerable. We go along to get along. Ultimately, our benevolent desires may get the best of us. Rather than lifting up those we try to help, we often find ourselves dragged down to their self-induced level of misery.
Nothing works. Nothing ever gets resolved. And so it goes when one party refuses to take responsibility for his own actions, and another enables it all.
In a land overwhelmed by political correctness, enabling poor behavior appears to have reached epidemic proportions. "Live and let live," they say. "Who are you to judge?" they protest.
Chances are, during the course of any given day, the average American witnesses someone being enabled, if not enabling someone themselves. The trend is rampant.
Take the panhandler along the sidewalk or at the busy intersection. Many of these unfortunate souls have made the conscious choice to shirk the responsibilities of a civil society, to avoid what the majority of us endure on behalf of ourselves and the greater good. Most of the others begging for change are addicted and broken.
When we gladly hand over a buck or two, we are abetting the injustice. We are enabling. In the case of the addict, we are actually feeding their addictions, ultimately aiding their misery and self-destruction.
Oddly, in today's "enlightened" society, this ritual is considered an act of kindness. It is a means to make ourselves feel better, perhaps a convenient way to assuage some sort of guilt.
Regardless of whether we recognize it, each instance in which we choose to tolerate rather than confront bad behavior is an instance in which we indirectly contribute to the denigration of society as a whole.
We enable our own; our bratty youngsters who throw fits in public places and are left unpunished, our recalcitrant teenagers whose misdeeds are overlooked in hopes that they will like us, our twenty-five-year-olds who never left home and have mistaken playing videos games for a way of life, convinced that someone owes them success.
Look around and you will see that our societal tendencies are manufacturing an army of disgruntled slackers, indoctrinated from an early age. They have always had their way. Everything they could ever need and more was provided for them -- for some, even well into adulthood. When they are finally pushed from the nest, they plummet aimlessly.
We enable criminal behavior, typically due either to overwhelmed justice and incarceration systems or mere celebrity status. If you can act, sing, catch a ball, or otherwise entertain enough of the populace then your chances of being absolved of personal responsibility are exponentially greater.
Consider the case of Lindsay Lohan. The young actress was let off so many times for charges related to her drug addictions that she was finally compelled to go out and steal a necklace to get her thrills. With a little tough love, the young woman would likely never have sunk to this level. Ah, but enable we must!
Today, we have an ever-growing list of government policies to enable illegal aliens. We have developed sanctuary cities where law enforcement agencies look the other way, even among those who commit crimes beyond their illegal status. We provide services in Spanish, the means to set up bank accounts, access to education, health services, the works.
We don't want to offend anyone, particularly those in the largest growing ethnic demographic in the nation. Apparently, their votes are much too valuable. We enable away and call it "social justice" so we'll all feel better about it.
We enable Hollywood's debasement of our culture (with few exceptions) when we go to the movies or buy a DVD, lining the pockets of those who so artfully create and celebrate a worldview which is completely at odds with what we teach in our homes.
We enable big business. Sure, we rail on about their excesses but most of us remain oblivious to our own role in empowering them. Through our 401K portfolios, many of us invest in the same companies we routinely complain about. Similarly, we often blindly do business with corporations which fund causes and politicians that promote the exact opposite of what we believe in.
Perhaps most damaging of all, we enable our government. In turn, government inherently expands the effort outward, enabling what has become a permanent underclass of our countrymen.
Call it Public Enabling. Perhaps we should just wrap up the many forms of publicly funded enabling under one large banner. We could create a new cabinet position in the federal government -- the Department of Enablement.
Along the way, the citizenry is enabling a self-interested cabal of corrupt politicians; corporate, public, and non-profit lobbies; and all the others who "game the system" by raiding public coffers.
We have built horribly elaborate, complicated bureaucratic structures to accommodate our enabling on a massive scale, such that aiding self-destruction is now completely confused with compassion for our fellow man.
Recall the nightmarish images of Hurricane Katrina? We watched human beings born with the same God-given will and opportunity to rise above their circumstances as any of the rest of us die unnecessarily, their bloated bodies lying beside the highway. So enabled were they, so decimated by their self-ascribed servitude, that it cost them their lives.
Though the horror played out on the screen right before our eyes, most of us easily miscast it. We called it something other than what it truly was. Big Media's narrative blamed the tragedy on the state, again absolving the individual of personal responsibility and reinforcing the fallacy of enabling.
Our twisted postmodern conventional wisdom suggested that the victims were incapable of saving themselves. Though most people in the area managed to sensibly do so, the victims were not to be held responsible for getting out of harm's way. Only the state could have saved them.
Enabling and self-destruction, whether on a very personal level or on a much broader scale, the two always go hand in hand.
George Scaggs is a writer, commentator, voice actor, and audio/video producer based in Austin, TX. More of his work can be found at Bargain Citizen Media, TexasInsider.org and TheGraph.com.