My oldest daughter was born with a club foot.
Her right foot has been severely turned inward for her entire life (she is now 3). For 99% of that time, she has been in a cast. Surgeries after surgeries have been performed on her in order to correct the abnormal turn that has been her normal. We have spent many days and nights in hospitals across multiple states, all with the goal of helping her get this corrected so that she can live a normal life.
Last week, we took her to the hospital where she gets weekly care and they took her cast off for the final time. Now remember, she has worn a cast the entirety of her 3-year-old life. It is all she has ever known. After taking it off, and replacing it with a brace (to help the foot ‘remember’ it needs to be straight), we sent her off to walk.
This proved to be a greater challenge than she initially expected.
Because she had never been outside of a cast, her knee and the surrounding muscles have not developed enough strength and understanding to operate correctly. My daughter immediately fell to the floor. It was clear that she was going to have to learn to walk properly, as opposed to dragging a casted leg around behind her.
When she realized that her leg was not strong enough to support her, some of the saddest words I have ever heard her say came blurting out:
“I want my cast!”
It stung me to heart. Here we were, three years removed from birth, and my daughter was asking for a cast to be placed back onto her leg. She was scared to face life without it. It was her security and safety. It was never meant to be permanent, only a temporary assistance to get her better. My heart broke in that moment.
Of course, I began to comfort her, and with every opportunity I get, I hold her hand and teach her to walk properly. She wants to hop around, when what she needs to do is apply pressure and go through the pain of developing the muscles surrounding her knee. I know she will soon walk normally, and if I had to go through all the surgeries and painful experiences again, I wouldn’t blink an eye. As any sane parent would agree, I would sacrifice my all to make sure my children have lives better than my own.
However, all this has sent my brain to thinking.
As I look around our nation, and the entire world even, I find a disturbing trend. It appears that we are living in a day and age when people are scared to develop the muscles needed to survive and thrive. The comforts of advanced societies have made us weak and scared. In other words, we have become dependent on the security of governments.
The world used to be a lot different, and the people that lived in that world were much different as well. It is not unusual to hear of young teenagers managing farms, getting married and raising families, and doing great things before they hit the grand age of 30. Today, many are complaining that they have to leave their parents’ health coverage at 27! We are dependent on handouts like my daughter depended on her cast.
We have lost the drive, know-how, and pressure to make life happen for ourselves. We complain when the government doesn’t cater to us. We are easily offended when things don’t go our way. We are quick to sue when we find ourselves out of luck and in a tight spot. We are dependent on the government, when what we need to do is free ourselves from the false security it offers.
Government assistance can be a great thing, if used properly and within context. However, it needs to be viewed as a cast, and not a permanent solution. It is not healthy for my daughter to continue wearing that cast, no matter how secure and safe it makes her feel. It would hamper her growth as a person and inevitably lead to more problems down the road. The best thing to do is to cut it off and grow her leg muscles.
The solution is the same for our cultures in the West. Instead of having governments that handout subsidies, entitlements, paychecks and healthcare, we should be striving to become something great on our own. Dependency on the government is not healthy, and leads to many problems. Yes, it is painful to throw off the false security of government and grow up, but it is the normal, healthy and mature thing to do. The government is complicit in this as well. It works to keep people on the dole, further creating a society of dependency. Every time a single mother is given more money for another child, a family is given large paychecks on April 15, and unemployment is extended another year for the perpetual stay-at-home job-seeker, the government gains another loyal follower. While assistance and tax breaks are good temporarily, we should not be rewarding bad behavior or lack of motivation to succeed.
When we can regain our sense of pride, freedom to innovate and learn, and once again develop a mindset of doing hard things, we will finally be ready to throw off the cast and start walking. It will not easy. For far to long we have been content with creating one department after another, devoted entirely to giving away things. The hard work of individuality and self-determination must be done. It’s high time we learned to stand on our own two feet again.
It’s time to cut away the cast.