When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’ – Don Marquis
All this discussion of “fair share” in today’s political arena got me thinking about the Parable of Talents found in the Bible’s book of Matthew, Chapter 25. In this parable, a man gives each of his three servants a bag of property, some say gold coins. The number of bags given was based on each of the servant’s ability. The owner then went on a journey and later returned to see what his three servants had done with what he’d entrusted to them.
The first servant, who was given five bags, used his talents to gain five more. The second, who was given two bags, used his talents to also double the owner’s initial investment. The third was given one bag. He was afraid and hid his bag in the earth and returned it to his master crying, “See, you still have what is yours.” The owner cursed him as slothful and even wicked, for not working with what he was given. The third servant’s rationale was, “I kept exactly what was given to me secure. Hence, there was no loss, so what’s the problem?”
The trouble with defining fair share is that everyone has a different definition. But this parable clearly illustrates the importance of hard work and investment for each individual. The owner did not take bags from the first and second servant and redistribute them to the third. In fact the owner did just the opposite and threw the third servant out into the darkness! The mentality of the third servant is what’s getting us into trouble. So many are content to take what is given them and not seek to render anything in return. As Arnold H. Glasgow said, “All some folks want is their fair share and yours.”
The third servant didn’t fail because he did not multiply what was left in his care; he failed because he was too afraid or too lazy to even try. The path to a tremendous life is not measured in end results or final numbers or bags of money, or titles, or even speaking trophies won, but in our commitment to living life’s continuous journey to its fullest.
The rewards reaped on the path to living tremendously can never be found on the streets of status quo. Whenever you feel that you’ve done enough and it’s time to rest on your laurels for a bit, remember, there is no such thing as status quo. Time can never be recovered, inflation defeats the worth of currency, and most truly great opportunities happen only once. Nothing static or dormant retains its original value. Decay and depreciation is a fact of life as evidenced in death and taxes.
Equal opportunity does not mean equal outcome. Having lived all over the world, I am amazed at how out of touch many of my countrymen have become. America offers all of its citizens, and even non-citizens, an abundance of opportunities in the form of schools, roads, parks, hospitals, and civic amenities. I am thankful for those more successful than me because they have given me the opportunity to rise up to their level. And I will never take what’s been given to me and not work hard to put it to use and multiply it. That’s my definition of fair share. Robin Hood was wrong.