What to Say When a Coworker of Yours Believes that Others are Obligated to Take Care of Her

Talking to CoworkersThere’s nothing more humorous than listening to a political discussion in the break room of your work place.

And it seems like I arrive just in time to hear them.

I tell you, I can spot a political conversation a mile away. It doesn’t matter whether I’m eating my lunch or have my earphones plugged in my head. If you’re talking politics, I’ll hear it.

This Time Was No Different.

I had just sat down to enjoy a much anticipated lunch when I overheard two employees behind me mention the word “Obamacare.” It’s a good bet that whenever someone mentions that word there’s a political conversation in progress.

Being the political enthusiast that I am, I focused in on their conversation.

One of them, an elderly gentlemen, was talking to his female colleague about the current status of the healthcare industry.

Now, for some people, it’s impossible not to jump into an opinionated conversation. It takes an enormous amount of will power for them not to say something. This is especially true when the conversation is the opposite of what they believe. But some people just can’t stand it, and jump in head first.

This one girl in the break room did just that.

She agreed that Obamacare was the wrong direction for the healthcare industry, but what came next wasn’t so agreeable.

According to her, you and I have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than us. If someone was born with a disability that prevents them from earning a living or getting a high paying job then it’s your duty to take care of them.

And if you don’t want to…then you should be made to.

She argued this point. Quite passionately I might add. The elderly gentlemen handled her nicely.

He explained that no one has an obligation to help others. Is such help encouraged? Totally! But should it be forced? No! Forced charity isn’t charity. It’s theft.

Do obligations to help others exist in specific situations? Yes. He brought up how parents have a duty to take care of their children, until a certain age.

All in all, he handled the conversation nicely.

Why Did She Believe This?

From what I heard, she felt that since you have diabetes, aren’t able to make a decent income, or can’t provide adequately for yourself then others need to step in to help you.

Now, I don’t have a problem with that. I did, however, have a problem when she stated that people should be required to provide help (whether they wanted to or not).

She sees the world as unfair, and rightly so. Life ain’t fair, as your mother most likely told you time and time again. To her, those with much need to provide for those with few.

The “well off” have the means, so why not make them help us little guys out?

Why Is This Wrong?

When you were a child, did you ever have to deal with that one kid who always complained about how much LEGO’s his friend had compared to him?

“It’s not fair!” he used to say. “He has more LEGO’s than I do! I want more LEGO’s mommy!”

That kid was annoying, wasn’t he? Never shut up, and was never satisfied. But his suggestive attitude didn’t end in his early years. It grew up with him through highschool, when his peers got better grades. And it stayed with him after college.

That obnoxious LEGO kid became the very person I was listening to in the break room.

“Life’s not fair!”

“They have more, they should provide for those who don’t.”

“Those with more have an obligation to care for me if I can’t care for myself.”

What’s wrong with this mindset?

No one has an obligation to help you. Period. I’m sorry, that might be cold, inhuman, wrong, whatever. It’s true. The guy driving that Lexus across the street from you isn’t responsible for your wellbeing.

Can he help you? Yes!

But should he be required… forced to help you? Absolutely not.

Thinking that others have a responsibility to provide for you when life gets tough is an entitlement mindset. Entitlement is a crutch. And in most cases, it brings about a hidden form of tyranny. I like to call it forced charity. (Click to Tweet)

In the end, that’s why her position is wrong. It’s not the “helping people” part that’s wrong. It’s the “force” that you should have a problem with.

No One Should Force You to Be Charitable

Charity is a voluntary action. Once you take away the “voluntary” aspect of it, it ceases to be charity. Forced charity isn’t charity. It’s oppression. (Click to Tweet)

You can help whoever you want. Heck, you can even encourage others to be generous. But forcing them to be generous? Nope, don’t do it.

You might as well walk into their home, hold a gun to their head, and tell them they have to give 40% of their income to the family down the street who’s barely getting by.

Charity Is a Choice

But People Need Help

Yes they do, but that doesn’t justify strong-arming the family living in the five bathroom mansion. You know who makes arguments like that? Third world dictators… and communists.

The good of the many outweigh the good of the few. That’s what you’re saying.

You’re also saying that theft is ok when the victim is wealthy and if the spoils go to a good cause. Theft is still theft no matter how you twist the morality of it.

Might I add that thousands of organizations exist who’s primary goal is to help those in need. They do it extremely well. And they do it without bullying anyone.

How Do You Discuss This Issue With People Like Her?

I would suggest a few things…

  • Directly ask them why they think others have a responsibility to take care of them.
  • Ask them how they justify forcing individuals to be “responsible” for them.
  • Bring up the fact that what they’re advocating is theft.
  • Use personally related examples and scenarios to communicate the issue to them in their own language (more on this in a minute).
  • Don’t let them give you hyped up scenarios, excuses and “what-ifs.” For example, the lady in the break room blatantly asked if she should be a “stripper,” since she could make more money that way. Such “scenarios” are ridiculous and should not be addressed. Push them aside.
  • Shoot down any stereotypical personal attack like, “You care more about rich people than those in need,” “So you think everyone is on their own in life?” and, “Why do you hate poor people?” Trust me, you’ll recognize them when you hear them.

One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is bullet point number four. I’ve talked about this in a previous article, and it rings true in any discussion. The best way to reach these types of people is through personal (and emotional) examples and scenarios.

Here’s a few that might help you in such a conversation…

“What if I walked into your house, with a gun, and threatened you to hand over your house, car, clothes, and money so I could help a few dozen guys down the street who’ve hit hard times? You can’t tell me that’d be right. That’s basically what you’re advocating for.”

“You believe stealing from another human being is wrong, right? So why would you support stealing from those who have families, children, and their own personal problems to deal with?”

“Essentially, you’re saying that the ends justify the means. If you’re helping someone in need then it’s ok to take from those with more. Did you know that’s been the excuse of many dictators throughout the ages to justify pilfering from the populace?”

Scenarios and examples like those above are limited to your creativity. They pack a punch. Especially once you start mentioning children.

If you ever find yourself in a conversation surrounding this issue it’s important to remember to A) recognize and dismiss the straw-mans, personal attacks, and hyped up scenarios… and B) use personal examples and scenarios like those above to better reach the individual you’re talking to.

You’ll do great!


PS ~ If you’ve ever had a break room chat like the one I mentioned in the beginning of the article share it in the comments below. If you’ve discussed this issue with a friend or coworker let me know how it went and how you handled it.
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About John-Pierre Maeli

Keeping it simple and crystal clear, because anything else is useless. I'm here to not only inform you, but to also connect with you. That's what The Political Informer is all about. Feel free to follow me on either Twitter or Google+ Let's talk!

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