As a compassionate and often generous person, I have been an enabler at times in my life. Although I’m often labeled a pessimist, I actually expect that people, if given the option, will do the right thing. Incidentally, that’s probably why I’m a socially conservative libertarian. In order for that form of government to work, people have to make good decisions.

In my younger days, my enabling manifested itself as paying girlfriends’ bills for them, picking them up from the bar when they got trashed, and various other things like that. I thought I was being a good guy.

Instead, I was teaching these girls to be financially irresponsible drunk idiots. You see, I was under the mistaken impression that parents were responsible for teaching their children not to be idiots, and I, as the good partner, was responsible for “taking care” of them.

So here I am thinking I’m helping someone, and I’m actually turning them into a bigger jerk than they started out as. People don’t learn jack squat unless they sometimes have to face consequences of their decisions. If you go out and spend 30K on your credit card, you are gonna have to eat ramen and suck it up, or you’re going to default and face all of those repercussions. By my bailing people out, I taught them that they can keep on maxing their cards because someone will swoop in and save them from themselves.

If you get busted for possession, it’s not my job to come bail your ass out of jail. You knew it was illegal to have drugs, and you chose to have them on your person anyhow. You are the idiot, and you are responsible for your decision. I’ve said time and time again, even if it was my own child… they are going to sit in the clink for a while and ponder their decision-making process. If the only way for you to learn to stop doing drugs is to be prison-raped by a giant hillbilly with hepatitis, then that’s just your bad luck.

On of my favorite examples of enabling is the morbidly obese person who can no longer get out of their own bed. SOMEONE is making them FOOD and bringing it to them in BED. That person is actively killing the obese person.

When I speed, I know I could get a ticket. Paying the ticket is the consequence for my poor choice. If someone else always paid my tickets, you can bet your ass I’d be speeding much worse than I do now.

It’s difficult for me to know where the line is between enabling and helping. Consequences are the universe’s way of teaching people who are unwilling or too stupid to learn from the mistakes of others.

The only feasible solution I can come up with is to stop helping people. I don’t see a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to help me with anything, so that’s only fair.

That’s a reasonable conclusion, right?

  2 comments for “Enablers

  1. livieloo
    September 7, 2011 at 7:40 am

    I think an important thing to look at when you’re thinking about helping someone is:

    1-How many bad decisions led them to the point where they are asking you for help… and

    2-Is this just one in a long line of past requests for help they’ve given you.

    A person’s past is the best predictor of their future. That’s not to say that people can’t change but that change has to come from their end, not yours.

  2. September 9, 2011 at 8:34 am


    I understand where you’re coming from. It can be rather frustrating to freely give to those “in need” only to be taken advantage of and maybe even criticized for not giving enough, often enough, etc.

    I believe the motivation behind giving must be a good one, a moral one. It must be for the greater good, not my good, his good or their good. If someone feels reluctant to give food, clothes, money, time to a person, group or cause, then that person should abstain from giving at all because then it wouldn’t be charity. A gift isn’t a gift if it isn’t given freely.

    Some in the world need hand outs, others hand ups and the rest should be offering the “hands”. I strongly believe those of us who are more fortunate than others have a moral obligation to help those who are less fortunate. I’m talking about altruism, not socialism. Charity is agnostic, devoid of religion and politics. It consists of love, compassion, generosity and morality. It’s selfless and dynamic when everything else in the world is selfish and static.

    If a person wishes to make the world a better place, to leave it better than how he or she found it, then charity is one of the best ways to do it. Yes, people offering the hand will be taken advantage of, deceived and maybe even ridiculed but the positive difference you make in just person’s life who’s truly in need is priceless.

    We can’t save everyone and everything but we can sure as hell try. Every little bit of help truly does count. When I get frustrated about charity I remind myself of something Teddy Roosevelt once said:

    “Do the best you can with what you have where you are.”

    I hope this helps.


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