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Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Sin of Altruism

The spousal unit and I had an interesting conversation this morning about giving, donating and why I despise the very thought of altruism. It stemmed from an event that happened earlier in the week. Someone made the dire mistake of snapping at me with no provocation whatsoever, letting slip their dislike for me. Do I care that they don't like me? Not one whit. I don't care enough about them to care if they don't care for me. It's an equal footing of apathy on both our parts. However, one should always keep that sort of thing to themselves. She made the mistake of letting it out in front of God and everybody else.

This person has a medical condition that is life threatening. I still don't care. Everybody is dying from living. However, this person is getting treatments which are expensive and she does not have much money. Also, she makes a poor wage, for a job for which she really deserves more pay. One of her co-workers discovered that she was having a tough time with money for the trip to get the treatment. She asked those around her to donate to help out with the cost. Now, as with most human beings, people stepped up. Even I did, because it's horrible that she has this disease, is trying to pay for it herself, yet has trouble just getting there. I'm not a complete monster. I just have knowledge of how things should work.

Anyway, this woman made her fatal faux pas. I observed, as I tend to do when I am amused, to see how things would play out. When the hat came around for the trip money, I did not contribute. This caused the woman who organized the hat passing some consternation. I simply explained that I no longer felt any desire to help out, so I was not. You could see the wheels slowly creaking away in her vapid little head.

"But... she needs it! You have to!"

The battle cry of all good little altruists everywhere. The one phrase guaranteed to send me into Morally Superior Mode.

I then schooled the twit on the sins of forced "donation", "volunteerism" and the fact that no one holds a gun to my head, literally or morally, and tells me I must do something for someone else. So I replied in my typical manner.

"I don't have to do anything but stay white and die."

With that, I was done.

Yes. I am the meanest woman on the planet. I have no problem with that. I stayed true to myself, what I firmly believe is right and moral. I did not squander my "teachable moment".

The woman who had tweaked my sense of the ridiculous orders lunch every day. The money she would have saved by bringing left overs or a sandwich for lunch would have easily paid for her gasoline for the trip to the treatment center. Still, I was willing to help out. Why? Because she was not whining and asking people to help her out (one could argue that by mentioning it to a known gossip she assured that surrogates would do for her). She's poor because she's in a job that pays squat and supporting herself and her husband and still paying for their medical expenses. I admire her for that alone. I can admire parts without approving the whole. Sue me.

So, I was ready to help out because someone pointed out that she needed help, and I could help. That is charity, that is true volunteerism. To me, that is morally right and correct. I teach the children whose parents entrust me to give them a religious education that we should only donate what we want, what makes us feel good, for to do anything out of duty and obligation makes us feel bad, and the people we're "helping" know it so it helps no one.

Therein lies the "sin" of altruism. Anytime you put a gun to a person's head and force them to do something it ceases to be giving and is, instead, taking by force. They are forcing YOU to sacrifice something to give it to someone who is more than likely undeserving of it. Making someone "volunteer" to receive anything, be it a high school diploma or time off your sentence does not teach people that giving because you want to and it makes you feel good. It teaches them that you can force someone to give you something with no effort on your part. That's what the lousy Progressive Libs do. They think that by forcing you to volunteer or do community service, that you will somehow be transformed into the raptures of giving to the undeserving, and you will never question the gun they put to your head in every dealing they have with you.

I knit blankets and throws. There is no way I could possibly use them all, and my friends aren't always receptive to my efforts. So, I donate them to the Veterans Administration hospital here in town. Why? Because I have something they need and it makes me feel good that a veteran, who has fought for my right to say no to someone I don't agree with, will get some comfort from my efforts and need to have busy hands. It benefits them, it benefits me. It's in a metaphysical way, and it also helps my yarn stash not get out of hand. As far as I can see, it's win/win.

What's the other side of this coin? I can tell you this, when I was younger, and living in Houston, I had some very creative confessors at my local parish. They were always shorthanded, and they quickly figured out that sinners merely need something to do. After all, idle hands make the Devil's work. Right? We would be given penances that included sweeping the different halls and buildings on our parish area. Or we could work in the food pantry and soup kitchen the church ran. I hated the soup kitchen. Hated hated hated. My hatred for it was obvious to all and sundry, and especially to the people who came in to the soup kitchen. So neither they, nor I gained anything from the experience. Everyone involved was thinking the same thing, "you're only here because you have to be". On both sides it's derisive and little of both parties.

Such is the world of altruism.

You're only doing this because you have to.

Think about that the next time someone is trying to emotionally blackmail you in to doing something you have no wish to do. Then just walk away from whoever it is and continue to ignore them. They are not worthy of your thought or notice. Let them burn on the petard they tried to hoist you on.

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