Last night our visiting relatives from Holland bought pizza for all and we had a very nice dinner at the in-laws. You've read about my mother-in-law, whom I adore. My father-in-law... I love him in a special way that only true pranksters and mischief makers can understand. But I love him most because he is a very kind and gentle man.
After dinner and drinks we sat around talking while the kids escaped to the house to play Just Dance 2. We got to talking about Uncle Robby and some of his pranks, which led to stories of my father-in-law's penchant for playing the waiter at restaurants we frequent. It completely freaks out friends who aren't used to our sense of humor. They don't know what to make of it and you can see the wheels cranking wondering what kind of hit his retirement portfolio took in the past years. He gets a chuckle out of it and it's good, clean fun. Plus, he's a damned good waiter.
He was telling us about the trip to the mall the previous day, for the relatives to get last minute gifts to take back home to Holland. He sat down on a bench, waiting for the rest of them in a department store and did what he does best, people watching. He saw a woman sit down on the other end of the bench from him, and as he explained it, she looked tired and her face was long. So he scooted his way over to her and put his arm around her and told her to smile, life gets better and it would make her look so much more beautiful (he's a charmer, my father-in-law). He said she smiled at him and her entire being just lit up and she thanked him for giving her a reason to smile.
I got to thinking about it for a second. I asked him, "Pop, did you give up anything to make that woman happy?" He said no. So I asked him, "Did she have to sacrifice anything to make YOU happy?" He was confused, but he told me that no she hadn't. I explained that he had experienced a moment of true happiness, they both had, and neither of them had had to sacrifice anything of themselves to accomplish this goal that Progressive Liberals hold up as the highest ideal. Altruism is an awful, horrible sin, and I hope God smites everyone who ever put it forth as moral.
He truly made someone happy, but just offering human touch and a kind word, and in turn, it made him happy. That is the only reason we should do any act of charity, because it makes US happy.
I'll give you this example, in Houston, my confessors were practical men. We had a large, poor parish, and we supported a convent for retired nuns and a soup kitchen and food pantry. Many of the penances we were given was to aid these acts of charity in some way. I hated getting the soup kitchen. I hated working the soup kitchen, and everyone there knew it. I got nothing out of it, the people I gave food to got nothing out of it and it was a waste. As the priests found out, a HUGE waste of my talents. I excelled in the Food Pantry. I have a gift for organization and I put it to use there. Plus, I was pretty good at getting donations. I would get perishables for the soup kitchen and put the staples in the pantry to hand out as needed. I was happy and the people I handed out food to were happy with their food and the fact that they were not interacting with a bored do-gooder who was only doing it because she had to. I didn't always get to work in the food pantry, because it was a penance, a punishment, but it taught me, fully, the horror of altruism.
Not many Objectivists cave under to the mysticism of a belief in something bigger than they are that isn't a direct result of a free market economy. I am one of the few who can pull it off and be unapologetic about it. It's one of the rare moments where I allow logic to take a baby step back and say that I believe in God, always have and always will. However, I don't believe in altruism. I don't believe in sacrificing my own happiness for that of someone else. I don't believe that is good or moral. I believe it is obscene.
For his part, my father-in-law brought that lesson home to me with his tale of the shopping mall. Now I just have to convince my husband that he will be in utter raptures waxing my legs. I can make this work. I know I can!