I've been thinking for a couple of days about some ideas that I will simply call basic welfare principles. I understand that numerous foreign governments have sought information about the welfare program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so I went to the Church's web site (lds.org) to find information for my post today.
The Church teaches that each individual has two basic welfare responsibilities: to become self-reliant and to care for the poor and the needy. It also teaches that each individual is responsible for his or her own social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and economic well-being. If the individual cannot care for themselves in any of these areas, the family is next in line to provide help. Parents are of course responsible to care for their children as well as to teach them how to become more responsible for their own welfare and to prepare them to become more self-reliant. Adult children become responsible for elderly or needy parents.
Self-reliance is the first of the two basic welfare principles and can be obtained by 1) gaining necessary education; 2) living good principles of exercise, hygiene, and nutrition; 3) gaining suitable employment; 4) storing food and clothing for future use; 5) being wise with personal resources, paying tithes and offerings, and avoiding debt; 6) gaining spiritual, emotional, and social strength.
I would like to discuss further the six self-reliance principles.
a. Education includes more than gaining a high school diploma or a college degree - both of which I consider to be absolutely essential. Education also includes reading the scriptures and other good books, improving reading, writing and mathematics skills, and becoming computer literate. Education should be a life long effort.
b. No one has more control over a person than that particular individual; therefore, each individual is responsible for keeping his/her own body as healthy and fit as possible. A daily exercise program is essential in maintaining strong muscles and bones. I am often amazed at the difference in my body when I am exercising regularly and when I am slothful. Cleanliness is very important, particularly now with swine flu in our midst and flu season approaching. We have been counseled to wash our hands often. Just as cars, trucks, and other vehicles do not run without the proper fuel, our bodies do not run well without proper nourishment. Just as we can overfill a vehicle, we can also put too much food into our bodies.
c. Unemployment is now higher than it has been in twenty-six years, and more jobs are being lost as time goes on. If you are employed now, try to make yourself indispensable to your company. Be the best employee that you can possibly be. If you are currently looking for work or trying to upgrade your position, work just as hard at find a job as you would to keep a job. Sometimes it just takes patience and persistence to find the right combination that will work.
d. Try to store enough food and clothing in your home to meet your needs for at least one month. This counsel is particularly important at times of natural disasters or personal crises, but it is very helpful in day to day living as well.
e. In order to be self-reliant, it is critical to avoid debt. Our current national economic crisis was caused by too many individuals and businesses living beyond their incomes. One very important way to conserve resources is to take good care of what is presently owned so it doesn't need to be replaced; this applies to clothing, appliances, carpet, vehicles, etc.
f. Spiritual, emotional, and social strength could very well be more important than physical strength. One very important resource is personal and family prayer; another is scripture study. Stay connected with people.
When God told Adam "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…" (Genesis 3:19), he was telling Adam that he would have to work for what he got. The principle of work has never been revoked and is still very important in becoming self-reliant. Work is required for doing well in school as well as providing a living. Any honorable work can be a source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity.
The second basic welfare principle is caring for the poor and the needy and helping them to gain the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc). The poor and the needy consist of the homeless, disabled, widow, elderly, sick, and those in poverty or experiencing hardships or natural disasters. Each individual and family are expected to meet as many of their own needs as possible before expecting others to help.
There are numerous ways that we can serve the poor and the needy including giving time, sharing talents, donating money, and providing child care - but our first responsibility is to be self-reliant so we don't need help!