In the not too distant past, society was uniformly motivated by a collective desire to obtain financial security and comfort through hard work and an earnest effort directed toward a life goal. The need to motivate the masses toward personal productivity in their endeavors was unnecessary, their very survival was dependent upon the ability to produce work and earn a living, the word earn being operative. While menial labor and those who engage in it have never sat atop the social scale in terms of financial compensation, those individuals were at the least respected for their self-reliance and contribution to societal improvement as a whole.
Nearly every segment of society in past generations was directed at achievement through hard work, from education to better housing to acquiring the creature comforts of the American Dream, these things were beyond reach if one did not apply oneself with dedication. Assistance from governmental agencies was nearly nonexistent, and what support was available came only in time of severe crisis. The family unit was strong and close knit, as was society, because the concept of helping your own not only applied to blood relatives, but to those in need within the local community.
In today’s society, hard work is not viewed upon with the dignity it deserves but with disdain, as the path of minimal effort is often the most lucrative. There is a local, state, or Federal Government program available for nearly every possible circumstance, and at the very first sign of distress we as a society no longer search within ourselves for a solution, but rather look to our government as though a child looks to a parent. This willing forfeiture of self determination is evidenced by the growth of a welfare mentality within our youth, who many times are the third or fourth consecutive generation in a family dependent upon welfare benefits.
While extending a helping hand to those in need is the mark of a progressive and civilized culture, there is a fine line that seems to have been erased in the societal definition between charity and dependency. We, as a nation, appear more concerned with the semantics of political rhetoric than addressing the issue of ensuring that every citizen is encouraged and enabled to contribute in some capacity to the betterment of society. Perhaps, welfare should be replaced with the conceptual model of “Workfare” as it is abundantly clear that there is a segment within society that is ignorant of the benefits of work and the rewards it bestows upon those willing to participate.