…And Then I Got In A Fight With Jesus.
So several years ago around Christmas I got into this insane argument with one of Justin’s aunts about charitable work. Really. It was crazy. Crazy because this particular aunt IS the very definition of a charitable person. Even her career – and that of her husband – is about providing comfort and support and a means for those less fortunate to navigate through this confusing system of ours. She is compassion incarnate. Or something.
So what was the argument?
It basically stemmed from the fact that I tied the act of giving to the idea of karma.
Allow me to explain. We were talking about charity and random acts of kindness and such. I said the beauty of any giving act is that while it certainly does some good for the recipient, it also instills in the giver a feeling of happiness, and… dare I say it?… pride. And the reason this is a good thing is because this feeling is likely to inspire the giver to give again, thus perpetuating the cycle of good deeds and good feelings. The design is flawless.
Or so I thought.
The problem with the correlation I made is that Justin’s aunt is devoutly religious. She was deeply and personally insulted by my apparent insinuation that people only do good deeds in order to reap karmic rewards. (And I assure you that is not what I said.)
Moreover, she would never dream of leading a charitable life simply because it made her feel happy. (Again, not what I said.)
In fact, it was her duty as a Christian to help those in need. (I can hardly argue with that, now can I?)
I tried to explain that I meant a nice “side-effect” of showing kindness towards others is the inevitable little warm fuzzy that nestles up in your face, your throat, your heart. It can’t be helped. It’s there, whether you want it or not. And, whether you realize it or not, it encourages you to continue to feed it by doing more nice things.
What’s wrong with that? Sounds like a win-win to me…
So you’re saying there is no such thing as a selfless act???
Of course not. All I’m saying is if a “selfless” deed just so happens to make you feel good about yourself, what is so wrong with that? The worst that could happen is it will inspire more selfless deeds.
Why do you think we like this guy on HGTV?
Or this guy on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?
Or this woman, doing what she does best?
Because they perpetuate the good. But no one can say they don’t get anything out of it.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter why a person does something nice. It’s just that he/she does it.
Which brings me to Part 2 of my personal Christmas reformation project. Part 1 started here, when I realized there is no possible way for me to make everyone I love happy over the holidays. Even so, I shouldn’t let that deter me from getting as much enjoyment as I can out of the things it will be possible for me to do. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But I’ve noticed over the years that the happier I am, the happier it makes people around me. Try it. You’ll see.
My next selfish step (aka. part 2) was to get myself a Christmas present. The gift of a warm fuzzy.
(Now before you stop reading because you’re afraid I’m going to ask you for money, don’t worry! I know these are tricky times for everyone. I will include a link at the bottom in case you are interested, but that’s it.)
In order to get my warm fuzzy, I made a donation to a charity I’ve read a lot about in recent months – one I’m confident will make the most of my meager contribution. And trust me, it was meager. And, just like I predicted, I now want to do a little more.
What I have decided is that no one will be buying me a wrappable gift this year. I’m tired of trying to think of something easy and affordable that someone could buy for me that I couldn’t just as easily buy for myself (because let’s face it – no one I know really wants to buy me this, andMark Zuckerberg has yet to accept my friendship request on Facebook). So if anyone asks, I will send them to my charity. It will literally take them 30 seconds to buy my gift, and they can spend as much or as little as they’d like. Then, if they really want to go above and beyond, they can email me (email@example.com) or leave me a comment here to tell me about it. I want them to get the warm fuzzy too.
Everybody wins – and really, I don’t mind if they feel good about it.
I realize this is not a groundbreaking idea. It’s not even a… um… ground tapping idea. But it’s new for me. And even if just one person gets me what I want this year (*cough*mom*cough*), I can honestly say that it will be the best gift I’ve received in a very, very long time.
To cross me off your Christmas list, click on THIS LINK to read about the GOD’S CHILD Project and then click the yellow “Donate” button. You can also read more about the GOD’S CHILD Project on this website.
Don’t forget to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment on this post if you make a donation. And even if you don’t make a donation but like the idea or are doing something similar, please share!