I have seen this replayed over and over and over. Friends have moved great distances for the lure of more money. When they have more money, they reason, they will no longer be in debt. No more living paycheck to paycheck. With more money, they will control the beast they have created. Much to their dismay, however, maybe even to their demise, the beast is not conquered, it only grows. With more money feeding it's every desire, the beast of their creation not only grows, but quietly consumes them. Thinking they could change their circumstances from the outside in, they were lulled into a false sense of security. "If only we could start over, we could beat this thing....".
I have known people who live in squalor, garbage piling high, a veritable epidemic waiting to happen. They think "If only we had a new home, then we would keep it clean", only to find that wherever they go, there they are. Their new home soon takes the shape of their old one. Why? Because they didn't change themselves from the inside - they only sought a change of address, not a change of heart.
Our leaders are selling hope and change. They are encouraing us to attempt to change ourselves, our neighbors, our cities and our nation from the outside in. We give more money to the schools in the hopes of improving education. We enroll more and more and more people on food stamps and medicaid, claiming to battle ignorance and chronic health problems. We pour money into impoverished neighborhoods and move the underprivileged into "better" homes. We make ourselves feel better because we are "doing" something for our fellow man. But, the truth of the matter is that we are doing worse than nothing. We are crippling people. We are lying to them. We are telling people that mere money will change their lives, but we are leading them down the path to certain failure. The truth is that only diligence, hard work, and perseverance will change people's circumstances. Only when people see that they are living wrongly can they begin to live rightly. Giving mortgage assistance to someone who doesn't pay their mortgage doesn't make their lives better, it only extends the period of time in which they can avoid the inevitable.
Interestingly, when we get into the business of "helping" our neighbor at the expense of their own growth, we are the ones who end up paying the price. Not only do they blame us for their predicament, they expect us to fix it for them. After all, weren't we the ones who said this would work? Think about it - we have, as a nation, attempted to fix the unemployment situation with government assistance. That, of course, didn't address the real problem. Now, we have unprecedented numbers of people applying for Social Security Disability (because their 99 weeks of unemployment ran out) and we are expected to cough up more money. Why? Because we told them we could fix their problems with other peoples money. It didn't work. In fact, it took away their incentive to work and robbed them of their self-reliance and pride.
The reality of life is that it is hard. It takes work, disappointment and the guts to walk forward. Life means making sacrifices and doing things you really don't want to do. But in the process, you change. And then, an amazing thing happens. As you change, so do your circumstances. After years of diligently working hard and spending your money wisely, you find that you have a comfortable cushion - no more living from paycheck to paycheck. After denying yourself the foolish cravings of your stomach, eating only what you know to be good for you, you wake up one morning with energy beyond your wildest expectations and clothes that are 4 sizes smaller. Picking up the clothes on the floor and the garbage in the yard, even when it would be far easier not to, rewards you with a tidy, well kept home that you are proud to call your own.
We need to change our nation by changing ourselves. We have to learn the value of diligence and suffering and sacrifice. We have to the do the hard things in order to realize true change. We have to quit putting money where our mouth is and instead encourage and value the work and character required to make us better people.
Offering hope to our nation requires work, not money. We are going to have to get our hands dirty to change our lives. Only when we quit trying to effect change from the outside will we have hope on the inside. And then, only then, will we flourish as a people, a culture and a nation.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18