Letter Re: One Week’s Worth — Examining the Ethics of Preparedness

Dear JWR:

In response to the article “One Weeks Worth”: First, I believe not all possible solutions were presented. It was clearly stated that the prepared man insisted that his wife always keep a half a tank of gas in her car, implying that he probably had a car too. They should have let them take one of their cars to get to the shelter. This would have been a viable and best scenario for a win-win situation.

Being helpless and being lazy are two separate issues and I believe the unprepared man was both lazy and slothful in not preparing.  There is a difference between being unable to help yourself and being unwilling to help yourself. He was clearly unwilling in my humble opinion!

Being a God fearing man and a Christian, I believe it is our responsibility to help those that are not able to help themselves.  Most people who are unable to help themselves have come to this situation through no fault of their own.  And many people in this situation would gladly want to be able to take care of themselves. But for those who are able to help themselves, I do believe that God wants us to take the first step towards self-sufficiency.

In addition, I believe the lessons from the parable of the Talents come to mind. Matthew 25:13-30 and a similar parable Luke 19:11-27. There are many scenarios in which this type of situation could be played out on a daily basis in which people cause their own problems due to slothfulness, lack of preparation and a million other scenarios.  

1). What if it’s not a friend that shows up but rather his gruff beer guzzling atheist co-worker whom he really doesn’t like shows up with his seven ragtag rowdy undisciplined kids? Is not a human being a human being? Where do we draw the line?  

2). I save for retirement, my friend doesn’t but rather is content to rely on social security payments for he and his wife’s income for their golden years. Shortly after retirement my friends wife dies and with her death so does her social security payments stop. My friend comes to me for help. Without my help on a regular monthly basis he is now forced to live in poverty and probably lose everything he has. Yes I saved, but I am far from wealthy or have what I would call abundance and my helping him in any worthwhile manner that would do him any good would severely hurt my wife and I financially in our own retirement. Am I ethically flawed to say I’m truly sorry I wish I could help but I just can’t? This could be a life and death situation if the man got so depressed the threat of suicide was real? I refer you to the parable of the talents.  

3). My friend and his wife bought a McMansion while my wife and I bought a modest house that we could afford. My friend was laid off and came to me one day explaining tearfully that they were six months behind on their mortgage and asked to borrow $40,000 or they and their three children would lose their house next week and be homeless. I have $80,000 in savings $40,000 would be half of what I have saved for my family, my children’s college education and my daughters wedding. I haven’t even started saving for retirement yet.  Do I tell my kids sorry no college and no wedding because my buddy needed the money instead.  This could also end up being a life and death situation.

So when we say “God helps those who help themselves”, we are not talking about the helpless.  We are talking about those who can help themselves but may have chosen not to. My friend is getting the keys to one of our cars with that half tank of gas!  – Just a Jarhead