In a Wall Street Journal comments section someone with the handle, Brooks Mick, told this story:
“My mother was a free-thinker, hardly ever thinking inside the box. She raised some chickens on her small farm, mostly for fun. One rooster, which she named Colonel Sanders, grew so fat and happy that his legs could not lift him to walk. My mother sewed a sling with holes cut out for his legs, suspended this by a pulley from a wire clothesline, and she would push Colonel Sanders back and forth until he caught on that the sling would support him well enough to allow him to walk up and down the line, and he gradually gained enough strength and lost enough weight that he could walk on his own again without support. What this has to do with the topic is not clear, but I remember my mother fondly for her concern for animals.”
A later commentator, Matthew Coons, provided this moral for the story:
“The lesson is simply giving people free stuff makes them dependent and stifles their potential however a properly constructed safety net will allow them to flourish and regain their [independence].”
OK. I used to help raise chickens, so I just liked this story. However, as someone who also used to be in a “helping profession”, it fit with my worry that what I sometimes helped people to do was to become more dependent. There is a fine line between the two kinds of help.