January 24th, 2012

Unsustainable Generosity —“The Big-Hearted Kind”

By Dave

Is it better to give your children everything they ask for, or is it better to have them work to earn it? Dr. Seuss’ ”Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose” is a fun story to explore some ideas on this topic, generosity, and self-sacrifice. Thidwick is a sweet moose who just hates to say no to anyone. You could say his generosity extends far beyond his own prosperity. Parents, especially the “big-hearted kind” should teach and provide their children a strong foundation including education and work ethic. Showering them with all their wants and everything they ask for can be a sure path to disaster and loss.

Thidwick’s adventure takes place near the fictional Lake Winna-Bango, where a herd of moose line up to graze the moss along the northern shore. Along the way, a “Bingle Bug” notices the large antlers of Thidwick (the last moose in line) and asks if he can live in them since Thidwick is not using them. Thidwick doesn’t see the harm in letting a little bug live in his antlers and accepts. Word is immediately spread and more guests move in.

Before long, many more freeloading guests move into Thidwick’s antlers without his notice, seeking to take advantage of his free resource. Thidwick first becomes bothered when a “Zinn-a-zu bird” painfully yanks Thidwick’s hair right off his head to use to build a nest. The bird is unfazed by Thidwick’s concern, reassuring “You can always grow more!”

Thidwick moves on reaffirming to himself that he is a kind moose for what he is doing. However, as winter approaches it becomes necessary for Thidwick to travel through the lake to the southern shore where there is a warmer climate and more food to graze. Fearing starvation Thidwick attempts to step in the water only to be abhorred by the animals in his antlers. The freeloaders proclaim Thidwick “has no right” to relocate their home, citing it’s only “fair” that Thidwick does as they say.

Hungry and lonely, Thidwick struggles to maintain the ever-increasing burden of supporting all the animals occupied on his antlers. Thidwick is nearing collapse until he is met by a group of hunters who spot his vulnerability and begin to shoot at him. Thidwick tries to escape but with the extra weight is unable to make a getaway and is soon trapped by the hunters. Thidwick – who only acted out of his soft heart – is seemingly about to meet his end. Suddenly he remembers that antler-shedding season has arrived. He bucks the antlers off, leaves the freeloaders at the mercy of the hunters and escapes to the southern shore. The story ends with Thidwick’s old antlers being hung on a wall along with the animals, who the hunters have now stuffed.

The longer Thidwick offered his antlers free of cost to the forest’s creatures the more they seemed to need it. Thidwick who was once happy and secure became lonely and hungry. Eventually there is nothing left to give, as what nearly happened to Thidwick—this system is unsustainable.

It was not till Thidwick recognized his true identify and assets that he was able to save his life and regain his prosperity. The freeloading animals he left behind had a poor turnout except other than possibly leaving a very visual example of what not to do. They could have relied on their own resources instead of others.

At Empowered Wealth, we help families plan how to move assets from one generation to another as smoothly as possible. Essentially we work to help you keep your antlers clean. Beneficiaries should be able to stand on their own two feet (or four as in Dr. Seuss’ “Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose” story) for generations to come. “What would you do if it happened to you?”

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