Saturday, August 20, 2011

Variation



I find it oddly surprising when I talk to people about taking care of their fellow man.  I have come to the conclusion that compassion, as practiced here, is an oddly selfish activity.  People only seem to be willing to lend a hand only if the person that they are helping is sufficiently similar to themselves.

Caring for others in America seems to have devolved into a cool calculation of self interest.  Tax write-offs seem to figure prominently.  Desire to maintain a tribal identity is another.  Exclusion of others from largesse is a major component.

And when we grudgingly do dole out help to others, it usually comes with lectures and entreaties to become more like us, to abandon the supposed "choices" that brought the person to their dire straits and buy into the bourgeois-dominated existence currently being defended.

People are developing strategies for living in an uncertain world.  Some have no hope of developing a workable strategy.  Others have decided that the world-view and faiths that drive us are no longer worth supporting.  There is still another group that just needs the resources to allow them a life worth living.

None of these conclusions are invalid.   These folks, won't become like "us" because we are a dying breed.  When I help someone, I am hoping that they don't become like me, but somehow, they can figure the way out of the endless maze that we all run through.

2 comments:

russell1200 said...

You are talking about "variations" and at the top of th post you have a picture of naked women.

Interesting?

As to the verbiage that follows, you are rationalizing a very human response. You want to help people, but when faced with the narcissist response that makes up much of our culture, you feel a need to justify.

You do not need to justify being a good person. They need to justify their callousness.

sofarfromheaven.com said...

Hi there. Seems the entire question of what's help and what isn't is ambiguous when it gets beyond giving a hungry person something to eat or lending a hand to someone who just fell in the parking lot and scattered groceries over the pavement.

Part of the problem is in the assumption we can take care of our fellow men, even when they are similar to ourselves. When they aren't sufficiently similar we're in no way qualified to decide whether they need our help, what form the help would take if we could provide it, and whether it would actually be a help if it goes beyond basic needs.

Seems to me institutionalized, or depersonalized help intended to squirt 'help' into a situation of need has a way of providing lots of jobs for the people in the business of helping while depleting those in need not much at all.

Maybe the only real charity is hands-on, where it's unpleasant, where there's personal sacrifice involved, where anticipated the sacrifice of helping can be weighed against the level of real help likely to result.

Feel good help, easy help, on the other hand, doesn't care whether there's help in the equation because it's about the helper, not the helpee.

Just some wandering thoughts. Doesn't seem a simple issue to me.

J