Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Giving to Give or Giving to Get?

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Total Black: $286.43
Total Red: $227,843.18

I passed a woman today who clearly was homeless.  I was walking over to the gallery for the Recession Art Sale.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything on me as I had given the four dollars in cash I had on me the day before as a donation to St. John the Divine while visiting the church with my mother and sister.  But what caught my attention was my attitude about wanting to give her money.  In past blog entries like A Minor Triumph and What is This, Sarcasm? I discussed my struggles and difficulties with homelessness and panhandlers generally.  So it surprised me today that I was so willing to dole out cash.  Then I caught myself.  I wasn’t interested in giving money to this woman because I knew she was in need.  Instead, it would have provided me an opportunity to feel better about myself because I was in a position to give.

Interesting observation, no?  Some people give to feel better about themselves.  I’m reminded of a conversation during a college course where one student insisted that no one does anything selflessly.  That even donations and offered help is really just to make ourselves feel better.  Curious philosophical debate.  Today I ran head-first into that notion.

As I noted, I didn’t have cash on me.  So, I wouldn’t have been able to give any money to that woman anyway.  But I know that what I really wanted to do was to feel that once again I’m in a position to give.  Not a horrible thing to want to feel generous, but it’s important to give for the right reasons.  That wouldn’t have happened today though.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

September 20, 2009 at 22:40

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