Don’t forget how to fish

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 perhaps is there a better method for teaching responsibility?  If a person is out of work, is it more helpful to extend benefits and guarantees, or to teach more effective ways of finding 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.

Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) resting, sleeping, preening, standing. Close up

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.

Don't forget how to fish for yourself.  Be careful of expecting things to always be the same.  Keep your fishing skills sharp and you'll never be victimized by having to find a new pond.

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  • James Springer

    Good point Dan. There are no guarantees in life and the worst thing you can do is take anything in your life for granted. Taking advantage of opportunities that come in life that can expand skills and experiences are worth pursuing.

  • Richard Medcalf

    Thanks for the reminder Dan. With growth comes confidence; with stagnation, fear. Thanks for all the content you put out.