10.18.2012

"Teach A Man To Fish..."


We all know the saying:

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

But what about when the man doesn't want to learn to fish?

First, yes, women can fish, but usually women are smart enough to know they need to learn something and just do it themselves. So for the sake of this argument, let's say it's a man. Let's also assume, of course, that you care about the man in question. You want this person to eat. You want them not to starve. And they aren't looking for you to give them fish all the time, but if you don't, you know fully well they're going to fuck themselves in the ass (not with the fish. That's gross, and in most states, illegal).

You can beg him to let you give him fish, but if you do that, you're stuck feeding a grown man for the rest of his life (because, of course, if you don't, he dies).

You can beg him to let you teach him. But of course, this is like begging a dog to let you teach it to 'heel'. They don't get why it's in their best interest. They don't understand that you're trying to get them to not run into traffic or run off and scare a stranger and end up being put down by the vet. They're stupid; after all, they don't want to learn a skill that will save, if not prolong, their life.

You can stealthily educate the guy on fishing. You can drop hints and leave literature around. But of course, if they're not interested, they're not going to tune in.

You can ask everyone he knows to convince him that it's in his best interest to learn fishing. He doesn't even have to learn from you... Just learn to fucking fish so he doesn't starve. This COULD work, but for the most part, people who are lazy and/or obstinate with you are lazy and/or obstinate, period.

So, you care about this hungry guy who, if he'd just let you help him with the knowledge you have, would do very well for himself. But for whatever reason -- he's lazy, stubborn, egotistical or just stupid -- it's not happening.

What do you do?

You realize that everyone, ultimately, is responsible for his or her own happiness. And while it is sad to watch someone you care about starve themselves because of a dogmatic refusal to do what's in their best interest, you can't make yourself responsible for it. Because you're not. And it sucks, because if you were, this person you care about would be much better off.

But you're not. Period.

So, if a man does not want to learn to fish, you have to decide how long you're going to sit around and be party to watching him starve himself.

As an aside, you might want to start paying attention to how many people around you are giving you advice about moving on from sitting around trying to teach this guy about fishing. They may be facing this same exact situation, but about you and your stubborn refusal to move on.

(Also, here are some other takes on that famous saying, some of them actually kinda funny)