Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Brothers" And Their "Keepers"

Bear with me, Gentle Reader. It will take a few words to get this essay to where it's going. But the subject is an important one.

Back at Eternity Road, In April of 2008, my Vietnamese-American sweetie Duyen posted the following, under the title Helping By Not Helping:

Help can cripple or kill you.

There aren't many people who get that. It's so easy to allow someone else to carry your burden for you. It's so easy to allow yourself to become dependent on other people's kindness and generosity. If you're cursed with an accepting nature, you can become a charity addict as easily as breathing. It forecloses your future; everything you might have achieved slips away, forgotten in the relief of not having to work for your own security or prosperity.

It's very important -- critical -- not to help when help is not needed, or not appreciated, or not wanted, or wanted much too much. I know, my Church says otherwise, but I have to disagree. Charity to good people in sudden, unexpected need that's not their fault, who are uncomfortable at being the objects of charity, is usually all right. Charity to people who've never shown any initiative or prudence is always wrong. Good-hearted people have done more harm through generosity than all the murderers that have ever lived. Maybe even including the government murderers....

I don't expect everyone to agree.

And indeed, not everyone did agree...though no one came close to refuting Duyen's central point: "Help" can cripple or kill you. That didn't surprise me at all. For one thing, Duyen is so far above the common herd that most of us can't even see the soles of her Prada pumps. For another, those six boldfaced words don't express a conclusion reached by a logical process, but an observable fact.

There's a reason for that old saying about good intentions.

Way, way back at the original Palace Of Reason -- hosted on Yahoo's old GeoCities subsidiary! -- I posted the following, under the title The Circle Of Care:

"Charity" derives from the Latin word "caritas," the concern for others that springs from personal connection. A related word of Greek derivation is "sympathy," the ability to "feel with" another person. These are not relations one can truly have with faceless and nameless strangers at a distance.

True charity requires proximity, for at least two reasons. First, the necessary personal connection, the sense that one is helping one's own, fails at any great remove. Second, human fallibility and weakness guarantee that, just as some will fail to prosper on their own, others will fail to employ charity properly; indeed, to receive money from others sometimes makes one's troubles worse. When this occurs, the giver must give no further, for other measures -- criticism, instruction, discipline -- are clearly indicated. With any separation between the benefactor and his beneficiary, it becomes impossible to know whether help helps in fact, or only in theory and intention.

I meant every word. I still do.

I write today because of an event far more recent than the citations above. You can read about it at Big Government, and I hope you will.

What are the standout facts in that article?

  • There's a fellow named George Obama who has a familial relationship with Barack Hussein Obama.
  • George Obama is 30 years of age and lives in Nairobi, Kenya; Barack Hussein Obama is 52 years old and lives in Washington, D.C.
  • According to published reports, George Obama lives on "a few dollars a month." Barack Hussein Obama is a wealthy man (and currently the president of the United States).
  • George Obama has a sick son whose medical expenses he cannot meet out of his own resources.
  • Barack Hussein Obama has not volunteered to assist George Obama with those expenses.
  • Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative writer of some note, has stepped forward and done so.

Here are my questions about the matter:

  1. Has Barack Hussein Obama ever met George Obama?
  2. If so, what sort of relationship do they have?
  3. If not, does Barack have a moral obligation to form some sort of relationship with George?
  4. In either case, does Barack have a moral obligation to contribute to the material well-being of George and his family?

Take your time over it, because what's coming next is likely to shock the panties off you.

Let's take the segment above and strip off some irrelevancies:

  • There's a fellow named Smith who has a familial relationship with Jones.
  • Smith is 30 years of age and lives in Nairobi, Kenya; Jones is 52 years old and lives in Washington, D.C.
  • According to published reports, Smith lives on "a few dollars a month;" Jones is a rather prestigious and wealthy man with a good income.
  • Smith has a sick son whose medical expenses he cannot meet out of his own resources.
  • Jones has not volunteered to assist Smith with those expenses.
  • Davis, a writer of some note who has an ideological antipathy toward Jones, has stepped forward and done so.

Here are my questions about the matter:

  1. Has Jones ever met Smith?
  2. If so, what sort of relationship do they have?
  3. If not, does Jones have a moral obligation to form some sort of relationship with Smith?
  4. In either case, does Jones have a moral obligation to contribute to the material well-being of Smith and his family?

Compare your initial reaction -- i.e., to the first, non-anonymized scenario -- to your reaction to the anonymized version. How do they differ, and why?

I am a libertarian-conservative and a firm American patriot. I despise Barack Hussein Obama, his ideology, and the damage he has done to this country. I hope profoundly that Mitt Romney defeats him on November 6.

But I don't hold Barack Hussein Obama personally responsible for relieving the material condition of George Obama. More, I consider it a really cheap shot, well below the ethical level demanded of a decent person, to use George Obama's plight as a political stroke against him.

Half-brothers? So what? I have yet to read anywhere that they're even acquainted, much less "close." The difference in their ages makes it unlikely that they've ever had direct contact with one another.

We are supposed to be better than this. We're supposed to have some understanding of the limits of an individual's responsibilities -- most especially, his moral obligations to unknown others.

We're also supposed to be skeptical of supplicants who importune the well-off. What have you done for yourself? is the question that should rise immediately to our lips. In many cases the answer will be, let us say, unimpressive, especially if the supplicant has long benefited from the generosity of others. I owe you nothing should be the second thing we say, regardless of any and all representations about blood ties and regardless of whether our station in life is due to protracted hard work or a winning lottery ticket. Our subsequent decision to help (or not) must be founded on a cold appraisal of the probable consequences.

George Obama called Dinesh D'Souza and pleaded for material aid. D'Souza gave it to him, which was entirely his decision; never mind what political motive he might have had. But I contend that Barack Hussein Obama owed half-brother George nothing, that he has no more moral obligation to assist his half-brother than has D'Souza, and that his decision not to do so is entirely defensible from all standpoints.

I warned you that this was likely to shock you. I intended to shock you, to disorient you and compel you to think freshly about this supposed moral obligation to "help" a "family member." I also want you to think about what ethical boundaries you're willing to observe in our common attempt to remove a wholly unsuitable chief executive from the Oval Office.

We'd better have some, or we're no better than the miscreants we're trying to displace.


Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh, I agree it's a cheap shot. But it's a tactic that will drive the DNC's emotional bus and campaign.

It's an ATTACK, something Conservatives are more shocked by than anything. An attack that gains traction and must be attended to is a ploy used most effectively against the Right.

I like that this particular one is shrewd enough to play on a Christian concept, rightly interpreted or no, to cast doubt in the mind of the inattentive. It's the Devil's own ploy straight from the Garden, and it's time the Left got a dose.

See also the shrewdness of Sarah Palin and Matt Drudge playing the "tar baby" strategy against Obama with the suggestion that he replace Biden soon. And the other factions merrily mocking in protest, pleading with O to keep Joe.

It's interesting times. Hope we live long enough to see them through.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Honestly, I just left here and found this very example in my feed-reader.

It's in Time, so you know it was written before Dinesh's story came out, but not before someone knew about it, I guarantee it. This isn't "punchback" but pre-planned triangulation. D'Souza's deed was coming to light and they couldn't stop it, merely try to time it to their liking.

There's a lot of winking and shuffling I'll turn a blind eye to in order to save Liberty and preserve lives from the horror of insurrection and war.

I wonder with you, however. Is casting doubt better than casting stones at each other?

Joan of Argghh! said...

Er, amend "tar baby" to "brer rabbit" strategy. Getting my nursery tales mixed up. "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!"

LindaF said...

This is complicated. I agree, just because you are distantly related to someone leaves you with no obligation to assist them, either materially or spiritually.

However, from a man who chastises Americans as "mean-spirited" for not wanting to fully-fund a lavish lifestyle for their "brothers" whose keeper Obama wants them to become, this is delicious payback. It's low, I agree, but wonderful fun.

The question should be asked, "would my contribution to this person advance his/her well-being in the long term?" If not, then certainly, don't hand over the money.

Many "down & outs", who are living the uncomfortable consequences of their choices in life, need to receive what is known as Tough Love - the true love that lets the person experience the unpleasantness of their bad choices, without being cushioned by "charity". Only when they experience an epiphany, due to bottoming-out, will they find the grit to change.

KG said...

Anything which places the odious leftists on the back foot is a worthwhile tactic. Especially since the finer points of morality (or should that be "morality") are lost on them anyway.
Looking at the damage Obama has caused and the certain damage another term in office would cause, I'd regard anything - up to and including a kinetic solution - as legitimate, even if distasteful.
Sometimes, liberty requires dirty work.

Ragin' Dave said...

I would agree that if it were Jones and Smith, two anonymous individuals, this story would be exactly as you put it. But as other commenters have already pointed out, Barack Obama has been such a demagogue, using his "pay your fair share" and "spread the wealth around" message to attack conservatives as mean, rich, greedy, spiteful people, that he's opened himself up to such attacks. This is a man who paints business owners as evil for daring to want to keep their own money, and yet he can't spare a few bucks for a relative?

Had Obama not attacked business owners and conservatives as greedy, rich and lacking compassion, this would be a non-story. But he HAS used that line of attack, and thus this becomes a valid counter-attack.

Had Obama pointed out that he was raised primarily by his mother and maternal grandparents, he could say "Hey, look, I don't even know the guy". Instead, he's used his darker skin color to attack conservatives as racist, and identified himself with his father's side of the family in order to gain political favor and protected political status. So he'd damn well better know that side of the family. In any case, since he identifies with his Muslim father more than with his white mother, and has used that identification for political benefit, he's opened himself up to this line of attack.

Jones and Smith may very well be strangers to each other. But Jones isn't out on the campaign trail claiming that conservatives want to throw granny off a cliff. Barack Obama is. And his demonization of conservatives as heartless, greedy and mean for not wanting to spend even more money on people that they don't personally know means that D'Souza's attack is perfectly legitimate.

Francis W. Porretto said...

It's been a long time since I last encountered self-nominated libertarians or conservatives who believe that "two wrongs CAN make a right." How strange...and how depressing.

KG said...

Was Hiroshima an ethical boundary crossed?
The masthead of my blog says "For Liberty" and I mean it. Liberty at any cost, liberty whatever it takes.
Because the alternative is inevitable slavery.

Daniel K Day said...

Alinsky Rule Number 4: Make the other side live up to its own standards.
Francis, is it immoral to use the above? That's what people are talking about here.
The Left loves to throw the charge of hypocrisy. 0bama can be accused of hypocrisy in this matter, according to their own standards.
As Joan said, it's cheap, but it's no less true for that.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Obama is blameless in this. I agree.

What others think of Obama, however, is our only battleground, and it's the only war we can wage, short of bloodshed. To cast a doubt in pliable minds of the inattentive solely to demean and hurt Obama on a personal level is cheap, no doubt. We're free to call out Dinesh on that point.

But these pliable minds have a power over me. These silly, malleable minds are equipped with a single weapon-- a vote-- and it will be deployed against everything I believe in. It will be deployed unthinkingly, and unjustly and without regard for my person or character. Their vote seeks to rob others of their livelihood and liberty. It may even be deployed against me in full error, despite best efforts to educate. It may be deployed spitefully and with a purpose to an end of me.

If some chaff of distortion throws them off signal, better that than to have Hellfire up the arse of our ship of State.

King David sent his own counselor to his son's confidants to pose as something he was not. His purpose was to deflect and misdirect the young usurper and restore the throne to its rightful king.

May God judge me mercifully.