During my recent visit to Zion's National Park, I was struck with how often I saw signs warning us NOT to feed the animals. Some signs included an explanation of the reasons. It turns out that giving handouts to animals can actually be cruel, in spite of good intentions. Handouts lead animals to become dependent on humans for food, and they teach their young to look to us for easy food instead of getting food the hard way. Then when winter comes and the tourists are no longer there, the easy source of food dries up and the young, not knowing how to properly fend for themselves, starve. It's a cruel and painful death eventually caused by acts intended to be kind. So if you feed the animals in Zion's, you'll be punished with a $100 fine. No matter how cute those critter are, the free handouts are one of the worse ways to help them.

Our government has no trouble recognizing the dangerous consequences of dependency when it comes to wild animals. Wish they could translate that logic to less wild species (who can become wild in a hurry when the handouts dry up).
There may be lessons here for us primate animals as well. Yes, we need to love and support each other in times of need, but there are dangers in terms of how this is done.

The LDS welfare system is based on a recognition that people need help, but that they should not become dependent and should be allowed and encouraged to do what they can on their own to become self-sufficient and independent. Maintaining dignity and self-respect and people get the help they actually need to move forward in life is one of the guiding principles (not always well applied) in the welfare system. It lifts both the giver and the recipient rather than making one more vulnerable than before. Inspired principles.

Update: I'm troubled that people would try to read racism or denigration of human recipients of welfare into these comments. We all depend on help at various stages in our lives. Help that only creates dependency versus help that really helps us to stand as much as we are able are two different things, and sometimes what seems most compassionate for the moment may not be in the long run. That's the point I tried to express.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the LDS welfare program, I'd like to say congratulations to the Church for this wonderful and visionary program. I've seen it in action close up and really love how it works. Let's all be generous in our donations when we can be, and grateful to serve and help others, or grateful to receive help when needed.
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