Wherever the Road Leads

Going From Potato Peelings

To Entitled


My mother gets Meals On Wheels delivered each weekday. Included, is soup, which she seldom consumes, so she offers it to me.

The soup is varied and tasty. The other day, it was green, so I assumed it was pea soup, which I rather like. It had an odd taste for pea soup and eventually I figured out that it was broccoli soup, not pea. Blech… broccoli.

As I stood there screwing up my nose at a freshly-prepared, dietetically-balanced, healthy food source – costing me nothing – I was reminded of an encounter I had a number of years ago.

I was speaking with an older man who had recently returned from a reunion in Belgium with his war-time (WWII) squadron who had been stationed there during the war. During their reunion, they interacted with many of the locals, some of whom had lived through the war-time occupation.

One local Belgian commented that, back then, the families were most grateful if they could get the potato peelings from the Canadian units, as the Canadians left much more of the potato attached to the peel, considerably more than the British or American KP Units.

These people fed their families and survived on trash, by boiling the peelings and making soup… and being thankful for it. And here’s me, screwing up my nose at kitchen-prepared broccoli soup.

Another situation that comes to mind from decades ago is when a cashier in a Safeway food store had a mother in tears over the use of Food Stamps… or whatever that generation’s Welfare Food Allowance was called. I thought that was awful, that the mother felt so shamed.

Maybe ‘shame” is the key word.

How did we go from picking through kitchen trash for potato peelings, and reduced to tears when using government assistance, to the Public Trough becoming, instead of ‘grateful for’ temporary assistance, free money is expected and a way of life?

We have no ‘shame’ in today’s world. The only ‘shame’ is in getting caught.

Separately but somewhat related, my mother watches a channel that frequently has appeals to donate to help improve conditions in Africa. Diseased children are featured to pull at the heart strings, and stories of walking miles for water and days for health care.

For almost twenty years, my mother contributed to a save-a-child organization. Her child ‘progressed’ from age six to age twenty-one and should have had his High School diploma at very least, but my mother was being sent primitive drawings of thanks, supposedly from ‘her’ child. When the organization called to ask my mother to sponsor two children instead of one, she told the caller that she had expected to see some progress in ‘her’ child over the years, had seen none, and quit the program.

The first of these ‘Relief’ organizations that I remember, was Lotta Hitschmanova and the Unitarian Service Committee, going back to television in the fifties. Many organizations have sprung up to help, countless churches send money and missionaries to aid the plight in Africa. Millions and millions and millions of dollars have been collected.

Why does nothing appear to have changed in the last sixty-plus years? Western countries have evolved and developed programs and practices to improve living conditions, health and education immeasurably. Why do some African countries not appear to have moved the needle one iota?

“God helps those who help themselves’ is not biblical, it it originated from Algernon Sydney in 1698 in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government. It was sage back then and is sage today. Many corporations have a charitable heart and will match employee collections for a worthy cause. THAT, I believe, is what works.

The person receiving the help has to contribute himself to his own betterment. He has to have a dog in the race.

Give, give, give teaches nothing and doesn’t work. (Nor do the recipients.)

Charity should be a temporary hand up, not a permanent hand out.


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  1. et  May 19, 2016

    well said Gordon. as usual you have hit the nail on the head. please keep your blogs coming. TY et

  2. Peter Vatistas  May 19, 2016

    Not only do I agree, but the blood doth also boil!


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