Help and self-help


Helping someone is most virtuous and kindly when it encourages the recipient of the help to engage in self-help. We cannot be sure of receiving help from other people always when we need it but we can be sure of self-help. There is no law against self-help and there is no law that compels the world to help us.

Who should help whom? The one who has anything that he can spare for someone who needs it. You do not have to be rich to help another person. Somewhere next door or on the street there is someone who does not have even a penny.

There are people who say we should not give money to those we find on streets whether grown-ups or children because we encourage the spirit of begging. The trouble is that we do not know much about their backgrounds. That street urchin or grown up may actually be homeless, friendless and without relatives of any sort. If we do not want to see beggars on the street let us show them how they can fend for themselves otherwise our attitudes are callous.


Giving much should not be our goal but giving wisely. Hence it has been said when you give a fish to someone also give him a net or a hook and show him how to catch fish so that in future he can be self-reliant.

We must give anyone the impression that he or she can depend on us for help whenever they need it. Even if we are committed to help fate is not in our hands. Children who were spoiled with gifts suffer most when parents suddenly die or for some other reason cannot do anything for them anymore. Though now and again we hear someone speaking against child labour we must not define labour too broadly, some amount of work soft enough for a child builds the character of self-help. John H. Johnson publisher of Ebony Magazine in the United States and one of the richest Americans says in his autobiography “Succeeding Against the odds” that he learned to work before he learned to play.

It is not in the interest of child to pamper him where there is help, there should be gratitude. A gentleman or lady who gives someone some help will not command the recipient of the help to say thank you, but when the recipient does not say thank you the giver inwardly resents such manner.


Gratitude should not just be inward but through conduct. Ten lepers visited Jesus and asked him to heal them. Nine of them were his fellow Jews, one was a Samaritan, a member of the despical community, Jesus directed them where to go and got healed. Out of ten only one of them came back to thank Jesus for cleansing them, Jesus expressed disappointment that the other nine, all Jews had received the help without appreciation.

As we give to others we must remember Benjamin Franklin’s observation that, “Most people return small favours, acknowledge middling ones, and repay great ones with ingratitude.”

We have sometimes come across people holding superior positions in society or having a lot of money who have forgotten the man who assisted them with their education. Now that fortunes have changed sides the man who helped has become poor and the fellow does not have thought for him. Remind these people what he save them they say it was nothing just a pound. If he wants the money back I can give it back in ten times as much. Riches like power can corrupt.

Because of such ingratitude must we cease helping the wretched ones of this earth. We should do what is right. God rewards good people indirectly. When next time you are in debt or other type of trouble you may` receive help from someone whom you never helped but who is guided by God’s invisible hand to help you. Many of us can remember receiving help from total strangers. We should cherish self-help because it is better than self pity.

Self-help is synonym of self-reliance. In chapter one of Samuel Smilele’s book headed ‘Self-help National and Individual’ we read inter alia “Heaven helps those who help themselves.”

The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual. It is exhibited in the lives of many and constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling.”

He goes on to say whatever is done for men to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves. No laws however stringent can make the idle industrious, the spendthrift careful or the drunken sober.

Many things that as individuals we should do for ourselves are not being done because we have lost the spirit of self-reliance. Soon after harvest food is sold thoughtlessly because we say in time of famine the government will come and rescue us with its resources or will bring food for us from the World Food Programme and other donors.

Self-help is more strenuous, no doubt than help from other people.

Where people do not practice self-help but love a life of ease you can expect of the Cashgate type and corruption in high places.

We must build a national character of self-help; preach it in churches and mosques as well as political rallies. We are a poor nation because we lack the work ethic.

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