Motivation of charity
Before I can best define my views on charity, I must first go into the actual definitions of two words that I will later use and their pseudo definitions assigned to them derived by modern day people’s misconception. My first task is to slowly expand your mind to become more pliable in order for you to listen more closely to the ideas which will be presented without the supposition to obduracy.
The words I would like to better define would be: selfishness, and charity. When looked at, each word in its own right conjures images based on different angles like what the word means to you or how you’ve heard it used before. People, when they read, subconsciously assign values to certain words based on their own set of dogmas or moral beliefs.
In that respect, when people think of the word “Charity,” they think of giving money to different organizations—maybe it is putting some change in the tray at the gas station check-out counter advocating the well being of cancer victims, maybe it is giving a dollar or two to the Salvation Army guy you see every Christmas who rings the bell in front of the local Wal-Mart you always visit, or possibly it could be about giving some money to the homeless man you see on the street corner every morning on your way to work. People usually assign a very positive meaning to charity. Charity makes people feel good. If it didn’t make people feel good inside, no one would ever give money or do good deeds.
In the same regards, when people think of the word “selfishness,” there is very little correlation between it and charity; in fact, they are seen almost as complete opposites. If a man gives money he is charitable, if he doesn’t, he is selfish. The word itself brings remembrances of stories of Scrooge, or an every day example of the man who refused to help out another person in need. It goes without mention that most assign “selfishness” a very negative meaning. Why not? We were raised to believe so.
As human beings, we have always found the topics of charity and selfishness interesting. Our understanding of their meanings has become over time a building block to our idea of a complete or correct moral philosophy—a moral philosophy at the kindergarten level that giving is good and not giving is bad. This is not wrong by any means. These two definitions are accurate for a basic understanding of what the word at its root level means. However, to not grow beyond this conception and begin to fully expand on their meanings is also wrong. Most people would prefer to perpetually keep themselves at this kindergarten level.
In order to fully understand meanings in words, we must reach a level that the words no longer have a meaning or value. We must reach a point that were I to say or use the word “selfish” it does not mean something bad, but in actuality I am using it to just describe a fact—not a feeling. Words written for explicative values are not drawn to bleed offense but merely to explain and capture the true definition of the subject matter. To evoke one to look inwardly and listen, in order to understand and not be offended, is the goal of all honest and true debate—to listen to the opinions of all others to uncover the truths and cipher out the erroneous in order to gain a more well rounded view of the subject and a more concretely grounded system of ideals and beliefs. In the words of John Stuart Mill, “No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this.”
If I were to express an opinion, the burden to provide logic and truths to back up what I have said would lie with me and no one else. In this regard, given all that I have written so far, I will venture out to say that, “Behind every act of charity is a sense of selfishness.” This is my statement—the burden of proof is now on me.
What do I mean by this? Alright, if you want to know, take the time to listen. Suppose that I’m going to Wal-Mart during Christmas to buy some toys for tots. How can this be selfish? Now, keep in mind that the word selfish is not used to show a presence of ill intent, but merely it plays a small role in all conscious levels. Human beings are created to make decisions that are suited to further the advancement of the self or the species. We are constantly seeking out means by which we are seeking to attain pleasure. The deeds in question are irrelevant whether they be good or bad, for pleasure may be derived by either means. A person can just as easily seek pleasure through sadistic means just like the other can seek it through say volunteering at a soup kitchen or nursing home. As human beings, we are amazing in our ability to seek out and find whatever it is that will make us feel good, and we are capable of many measures whether they be benign or malignant in nature. Now, any action committed by our part in the regards of what would make us feel better, whether or not it will benefit others, defines selfishness. Not to say that buying toys for tots is a bad thing, but if the action itself did not make us feel better, we would not do it. Without being able to bypass the after effect of pleasure derived from charity, it is inevitable that a good person can not commit a good deed unselfishly. Keep in mind that I wrote a “good person.” What I mean by this is that a person, who would be considered to be a bad person, would never find themselves compelled to do what would be considered to be good deeds. If a bad person were to commit a good deed, this action could be defined as unselfish, since this person derived no pleasure out of it, but that is in the case that the person only did it spontaneously without any provocation. If anything can be gained and the action is committed in order to fulfill the means by which something can be gained, it is selfish. Alright, now a good person can commit an unselfish bad deed but not without being forced to do so, but bear in mind that this explication is to be proven by the means of good deeds and not bad.
So, What does all this mean? Well, without being able to understand the concept of the selfish predisposed nature in a “good” deed, we can not find the ability to protect ourselves from scams or scam artists who use our self serving motivations to do good deeds against us. Say that I am a scam artist. I want your money. I can do this by playing to your sympathies. My plan is to set up a jug in several different local establishments. I will write on these jugs the same message, “All proceeds of this charity are to go to the benefit of others.” Surprisingly, even with a message as vague as that, people will recognize the words “Charity” and “Benefit,” and give some spare change solely for the reason that it makes them feel better and they feel it is doing something good—to add effect, you can stick on a picture of yourself as a child, because people are more willing to help causes for children than adults. Now bear in mind, I didn’t lie on the message. All the proceeds will go to benefit others—me.