Faced with another fellow’s misfortune, some genuinely yearn to help. Some believe that they do, although they may not acknowledge a less honorable motive, not even to themselves. Some witting or not truly seek either ego-strokes or control or both.
A profoundly significant difference delineates the truly humane helper from the self-serving one: their objective—for the genuine helper, a beneficiary; for the others, power. But determining the subtle distinction requires seeing beneath their surface similarity.
The false helper’s quarry is people who have been, or can be persuaded that they have been, victimized. When a helper identifies a victim, he offers to alleviate the victim’s real or imagined hardship. It doesn’t matter whether or not the helper actually can significantly change anything, or even whether or not he actually intends to try. The objective has been gained.
But at whose cost? The false helper will not pay. Rather, he will find a means for luring or forcing others to do so. Worse, the victim pays with his freedom and his dignity.
Except for those self-activating ones who refuse the role, the victimization sequence becomes self-perpetuating. Once defined as a victim, the susceptible person absorbs the role of helpless dependence. The acquiescent victim comes to require subsidies, special treatment and privileges, emotional and financial support, ever more aid. Spiraling downward, the “victim” finally does indeed become a victim, ruined by the helper—well-meant or insidious.
In the July-August 2010 Centennial Review and his presentation at the 2010 Western Conservative Summit, author and business professor Arthur Brooks observed that, far less than monetary rewards, it is satisfaction that motivates achievers. Effective people crave a sense of accomplishment. By drowning a victim in welfare and ease, the helper denies him of any chance for achievement and robs him of his self-worth.
Moreover, Brooks noted, the satisfaction-starved victim naturally becomes increasingly unhappy. Never strengthened and thus never empowered to surmount life’s challenges, the victim cannot savor simple contentment. Thus the victim develops a genuine grievance.
At that point the true helper feels deep frustration, for his well-intentioned efforts have only worsened the victim’s plight. But, for the false self-serving helper, this is the moment! Now he has power and control. Now his ego gleams.
All false helpers gain a powerful ego-rush. What could be more self-elevating than the role of rescuer? By declaring another as victim, the helper feels soaringly superior.
So addictive is this ego-rush, self-serving helpers constantly seek out new victims—unsuccessful people, threatened species, even our planet. Find or conjure a problem, declare an enemy, sally into the limelight, bask in the warm glow of feeling powerful and significant and popular.
That woeful victimization sequence also demonstrates the fundamental and lasting difference between Conservatives and the Left. Of course, Conservatives demand fiscal responsibility and Constitutionality. In addition, Conservatives care deeply about social and environment problems. Indeed, Conservatives’ generosity and efforts in aid of true misfortune outshines any doubt. Nonetheless, Conservatives address suffering entirely differently.
First, Conservatives do not create victims because Conservatives do not seek the power, the control, nor the ego-rush. Quite the contrary, Conservatives cherish independence and empowerment for all.
Even more illustrative is the means that Conservatives or the Left apply to alleviating problems. The Left immediately calls forth the State, legislating regulations and compelling taxpayer support. In contrast, when a Conservative encounters a genuine problem, he pursues a solution on his own or through the voluntary cooperation of like-minded companions perhaps a civic club, faith group or local charity.
The Left’s goal is diminishing the victim to perpetual dependency, whereas the Conservative’s goal is restoring him to success. Conservatives work to empower individuals, whereas the Left culls power from citizens to the State.
All Statist regimes, even the originally well-intentioned, must garner more and more power over an ever wider spectrum of activities involving larger and larger segments of the population. The eventual outcome is tyranny. Thus the helpers become oppressors and we all become the State’s victims.
Simón Bolivár concisely declaimed this dire destination, “A state too extensive in itself or … its dependencies ultimately falls into decay, its free government … into tyranny; it … finally degenerates into despotism….”
How to escape this devolution into tyranny? Preserving precious individual freedom requires courage, perseverance and vigilance, ever asserting our right to self-activation, ever rejecting intrusive “help.” Preserving individual freedom further requires demanding adherence to Constitutional limits on overweening government. Individual freedom must have as its foundation the Rule of Law. As truly compassionate helpers, we Conservatives strengthen our fellow citizens and thus
strengthen our nation to withstand the false self-serving helpers’ persistent onslaught. Then we may all thrive.