“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” – Bob Carter
When you consider American conservatism, self-reliance always comes to the forefront. The classic conservative American ideal is the self-made man, the person does not need to rely on others. Now, this is not exactly accurate – we are not islands isolated from each, we are social creatures – but the principle is there. We do not celebrate, barbecue, and launch fireworks for Dependence Day.
There is a harsher side to this focus on self-reliance – the fate of those not self-reliant. This brings up the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper partied while the ant kept busy storing up resources and digging a burrow, and when the winter came the grasshopper starved and froze to death. Harsh, yes, but that was the way of the world for centuries. Pity and charity are fundamentally luxuries – if you do not have abundance, the unprepared starve. There is no obligation to help others at a cost yourself except moral principles. It is noble and a deeply respected tradition to offer hospitality to the traveler, even if he was unprepared for the journey. Regardless, there is no formal duty to aid others.
I am not a believer in Ayn Rand’s Objectivism with its hatred of altruism – I serve the King of Heroic Sacrifice – but the modern culture of dependence and refusal to prepare for future misfortune is leading us off of the cliff. Perhaps it is time to bring back a dose of cold reality to our modern grasshoppers.