When The Safety Net Becomes The Snare

Many years ago my mother told me a story about a child walking along a woodland path.  This sweet child came upon a butterfly struggling to break free of its cocoon.  The youngster was fascinated and stopped to watch the insect.  The emerging butterfly seemed to be in a life and death battle to free itself from the silken shell that had concealed the metamorphosis from caterpillar to winged beauty.  Concern overcame the child and so she made the decision to help this creature free itself…but much to the dismay of the young girl the very act of helping had sealed the fate of the butterfly.  You see, it is the struggle that gives the insect the strength to fly.  The butterfly was unwittingly killed with kindness.

This relates very closely to the “safety net” of welfare and other social programs that we, as a society, offer to help the less fortunate.  You see, men and women gain a sense of satisfaction…pride…when they accomplish things.  They have a sense of self-worth when they earn a living and are productive members of society.  But when a person is told that they are not able to achieve this they are being robbed of that self respect.  Once lost, that pride and confidence is very difficult to regain.

When a person loses their self respect they can no longer respect others.  The culture then becomes an “entitlement” attitude, where the recipient expects things to be supplied for them whether they have earned those things or not.  The reverence for life is lost, as there is no longer value to anything.  There is no blame either, as society makes excuses like, “It’s not their fault, they come from a broken home.”

While we have good intentions when we try to lend a hand to someone we perceive to be in need, we must consider all the circumstances and realize that sometimes the best way to help is to offer encouragement and let the individual find their own way.  A bit of guidance is not a bad thing either, but each person must make their own journey.  We can walk with them, but if we carry them then we may very well be the catalyst of their demise.


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