Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rant: Good Deeds

I have some very good friends who are very good people.
But sometimes, when these friends would talk about how they won scholarships for all their community service, when they would post pictures of starving strays that they picked up on the side of the highway & took home to feed before taking them to a shelter, when they brag about how they taught indigent children living in squalor in South America how to grow their own corn, I often felt the urge to punch myself in the face.

& I would wonder: is this jealousy? Do I feel this way because I wish I was as good a person?
Would I feel better if I saved a dozen nuns from a burning bus that was about to roll off a cliff?

I'm not sure. & probably jealousy might be part of it.
But the other part is a theory I've been exploring lately & it is this:

There are those among us who do community service for the sake of their own vanity.
This theory isn't completely mine, I came across it while reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Some people only do good things to prove to themselves and others that they're good people.
Or maybe they really are good people. I don't know.

No matter what the reason, the world needs more volunteers & even doing something unselfish that's motivated by selfishness arguably benefits everyone involved.

But I still can't help but feel that we should all be able to contribute to society without feeling the need to brag about it.
Once upon a time before facebook, people used to do community service because they knew they could be a part of something bigger than themselves, and this realization was fulfilling without having to seek validation from others.

I wonder if we'll all ever get back to that.

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