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Nonprofits vs Communism – What Happens When You Give Everyone Everything? is Maxie Carpenter’s addendum to his last post What of Socialism & Nonprofits? I’d ask all of us doing the work of human and social services to consider the following.
Most don’t know that the English language is almost alone among major languages in having the word earn in its vocabulary. Those of us whose native language is English assume that the phrase to earn a living is universal. It isn’t. It’s almost unique to English, to which few languages can attest.
In the Romance languages, for example (a list that includes such major languages as Spanish, French, and Italian) the word used when saying someone earns money, is ganar in Spanish and gagner in French. The word literally means to win. In Hebrew, the word marveach means profits. In German, the word verdient means deserves.
Obviously, it’s quite different to win, deserve or profit than to earn.
From 1960 to today, a concerted effort has been made to weed the word (and therefore the cultural value of) earning from American life. Increasingly little is earned. Instead of earning, we’re increasingly owed, we have more rights, or we’re simply given.
Another increasingly widespread concept that undermines the notion of earning is unconditional love. The term, which was barely used prior to the 60’s, is now heard everywhere, converted into a human ideal to strive for. The idea of having to earn love is more than unheard of today and would strike most contemporaries as morally suspect.
We now expect unconditional love not only from parents to babies and toddlers, but to children of any age, no matter how they act. Parental unconditional love today more often means that all people, no matter how disgracefully they act (even toward a parent) and no matter how old they are, must be shown infinite love and that parental love is never to be earned, always to be given.
We even expect God to show unconditional love to all people, again no matter how they act. No one must earn God’s love. It’s given just for breathing. Many people believe this about God. I’m no theologian by any stretch, but I do know my Bible and I can tell you there’s no biblical support for this concept of God. The human condition also doesn’t support that concept by any definition. We see evidence daily that human kindness doesn’t begat human kindness.
We even expect unconditional love (unearned love) from our spouses. No matter how awfully you treat your spouse, the minute those vows are uttered, and the preacher follows with the words I now pronounce you man and wife, you’re entitled to unconditional love. You had to earn each other’s love prior to marriage, now you no longer have to earn the other’s love.
We also expect forgiveness to be given without being earned. Many people believe in automatic forgiveness, or the obligation to forgive anyone any crime, regardless of whether they earned it or not.
This increasingly powerful culture of entitlements undermines the value of earning anything. The more the state gives to its citizens, the less they have to earn. That’s the basic concept of the welfare state, where you receive almost everything you need without having to earn any of it. About half of Americans now pay no federal income tax, but they receive all the government benefits just as if they’d paid for and earned them.
America became a great civilization thanks to a culture based on the value of having to earn almost everything you received in life. As it abandons this value, it will become a mediocre civilization and eventually, it won’t be America. It’ll just be a large Sweden with about as much influence.
If you haven’t realized the impact this kind of culture will have on the Nonprofit sector, then despite your reluctance to do so (a reluctance I share daily), start paying attention. Do your homework related to not only what history has affirmed over and over about this kind of culture, but what we’re seeing play out in front of us daily. Ask yourself if this is the ‘new normal’ you want to try and motivate the people we serve to pull themselves out of.
If you thought our work was difficult prior to the ongoing Pandemic, or prior to the tragic events in Minneapolis and the continuing chaos erupting since, then, as I said in my most recent post, You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Nonprofits vs Communism – What Happens When You Give Everyone Everything? was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY.
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