Letters to the Editor

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

To the editor:

A few months ago, I wrote a letter asking just why we as a community were being asked to supply basic hygiene products to students, why the parents weren’t supplying these basic necessities themselves. I was accused by another letter-writer of being heartless and of calling the parents lazy. I never said anyone was lazy. I just wanted to know why parents weren’t being parents.

In my years out in the world, I have noticed people judge others based on their own personality. So I am going to give the letter-writer a pass, instead I am going to suggest that maybe these parents would be better served by classes in cooking, budgeting and counseling on child-rearing. The other writer seemed to think the issue was a solely monetary one, whereas I feel it is an attitude one.

I was one of eight children. My parents never let us do without the basic necessities. That was the point I was trying to make; we took care of ourselves and made do when we didn’t have something. People used to take pride in making do, getting by. I can remember my mom putting a new collar and some different lace on her Sunday dress to “freshen” it.

I don’t think my dad bought a new suit until all of us kids had left the house. The thought of a hand-out from the government would have made my parents ill. It just wasn’t done. And to have the *school* know our business? Oh no! No, no, no! It was not going to happen because it would be known all over town. Small towns breed enough gossip without giving them actual facts to work with.

I know it is common to say that people shouldn’t have to do without such and such. I ask, why not? We never had a telephone the whole time I lived at home. We frequently didn’t have a TV. I had neither of those things in my first apartment, nor did I have a car. I got a ride with someone for work in exchange for gas money. There are ways to economize that are rapidly being lost because people are told they are entitled to have.

I do realize that everyone is free to spend their money as they wish. But when it is *my* money they are spending, well, then this is where another truism comes in: ”When you spend other people’s money, they feel they have the right to tell you how to live.” And by asking we the public to fund hygiene products, school supplies, backpacks, coats, hats, mittens and gloves, blankets, food, housing and Christmas presents, well, then, I am going to voice my opinions.

And my opinion is thus: Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. In this case the “fish” is skills in budgets, money handling, cooking, menu selection and thrift. We are lucky in this state that produce is easy to come by in the summer. Canning or freezing is a simple skill that is easy to learn. Fishing is a simple skill, relatively inexpensive, and it gets the whole family outdoors, and it is a wonderful way to get the kids involved in the family unit’s survival.