Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In my Advanced Family Relations course I took during the spring semester of 2017, my professor talked about something very interesting about this quote. I wanted to share it with you and see what you think. It really opened my eyes on the idea of the abilities and the resources of others. During this class, we spent a majority of the time discussing the effects of poverty, but I feel that these questions can bring up other discussion of other topics as well.

This proverb is saying to the reader that you can give a man what he needs or teach how to acquire that thing, in this case it is fish (food). Giving the man the fish will only help him in that moment he chooses to eat the food. If you teach the man how to fish, you can feed the man fish for a life time because he has gained the knowledge of how to get the food for himself.

One obviously sounds better than the other, which is why I think people use this saying a lot when it comes to talking about helping people. But there are so many flaws here that not many people think of. Yes, knowledge can help people, and that is something I firmly believe, but think about this.

Does this man have a fishing pole and bait to use to fish? Or are we teaching him how to just dive in and grab the fish by the fins? How is he going to get these things if he doesn’t have them himself? What if he doesn’t have any money to use to buy these things? Does he live near a lake? Does the late have the fish he needs or is the lake full of pollution? Will the man get sick from eating the fish? What if he physically cannot fish himself? Does he have the resources at his service to find someone to help him fish? Can he pay for the services?

When you help people it is more than just teaching them how to do the correct behaviors. Yes, teaching someone how to fish can be helpful, but there are so many other factors that need to be taken into account, I think. They need the resources and support to do the behaviors in the first place.

This is especially true when you think about those with disabilities. Some people have an inability to learn new things. Others don’t have the motivation to. Some just don’t want to and choose to do something else. Are you going to try to force them to fish or let them choose to eat pasta from the market instead? What if they are allergic to fish? What then?

What do you think about these question I have brought up? Do they make you think a little more about this type of situation?

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