Charity? : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Our board has many people with ideals-myself included. Much of the debate involves conflicting ideals, and this is just fine. A good debate keeps the mind sharp. What I am curious about, is how many of us put our beliefs into action?

For myself, I know I could do more volunteer work. While I feel my contributions here are helpful, and while I am happy that we have formed a prayer group, I see there is so much work to be done, and so many folks that need help.

I post this to solicit your stories of volunteer work, so that I and maybe others will be inspired to lend a hand. The danger, for me, in my spiritual studies, is that I can be caught in all talk and no action. Among my friends we have a saying that we "look at what a person is doing, not what they are saying".

What are you DOING today?

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), August 09, 2000



Terriffic point. I vaguely remember a thread not long ago (maybe your thread) about Selfishness or Selflessness. Someone made the point that volunteering service was, for them, almost a selfish act because they benefitted as much as the person they helped.

This is true. It is a little secret that took me far too long to discover. Serving others can be a wonderful rush for the server. I don't say that that should be the motivation for service but if someone hasn't volunteered before they should be ready for some surprising personal rewards.

There are so many ways to volunteer. To anyone, do a little digging, give it some creative thought--you will find something (maybe not right away, but ultimately) that suits your personal schedule and abilities and you might be amazed at how fulfilling it is.

-- Lars (, August 09, 2000.

FutureShock, this is a beautiful sentiment, and please don't take offense at what I'm about to say.

For many people (myself included), it's not necessary to "show the world" what one does. For example, while I may not physically volunteer at a shelter or other such place, I do things in my life that aren't necessarily visible. And no, it's not to relieve my conscience or make me feel better. I've been doing things like this for many years because I know my help is needed and if I have the means through which to help, then it's my responsibility to do so. The things I do are private to me; I don't care if anyone ever knows about them. Those close to me know what kind of person I am, without all the "details" of things I may do. More importantly, *I* know what kind of person I am.

But I can tell you a story of something that happened to me when I was about 19 or 20, and I think it's kind of illustrative of what I'm talking about.

It was one of my first jobs in Manhattan and when I was out to lunch, I came upon a homeless woman. I literally had just spent the last $1.50 in my pocket (payday was still a day off) and she asked if I had any money. I felt like such a heel because I had just finished my dirty-water hot dog and soda, and here's this woman who has absolutely nothing but the clothes on her back. I was almost in tears explaining how sorry I was that I had no money. She was the happiest, "sunniest" woman I had ever seen in her situation. I think she was more embarrassed than I was. Anyway, I was wearing this pin that was a rainbow or something like that (someone made it for me) and she admired it. So I gave it to her and as she was thanking me, I could see the tears of happiness begin to come down her face.

She went on to tell me that no one had ever done anything like that for her. Now whether or not she was playing with me, I'll never know and frankly, it doesn't matter one whit. Did I feel better? Yes and no. I was glad I had made her happy, but sad because I couldn't feed her.

Did anyone see this? No, and again, it didn't matter a whit. Because you see, while you and your friends can "look at what a person is doing...", you may never really know what they do, because you may never see it. And maybe it's not for you to see. I understand your desire for inspiration; but please don't be disappointed because you may not "see" other people doing what you consider charitable and giving work. The danger of "all talk and no action" hits everyone; you're a strong person, FS, and you can overcome that regardless of the inspiration that may, or may not, be around you.

(Can ANYONE teach me BREVITY?!?!?!)

-- Patricia (, August 09, 2000.

let =GOD arrange the circumstance-& be led by love!leave the result,s with him!-we can.t =earn GODS=LOVE, JUST ENJOY -HE WILL-GUIDE!! SUPER COOL-POST PATRICIA!!it,s those little-spur of the moment- blessings!!---just go with the flow!!--no pressure-needed!

-- al-d. (, August 09, 2000.

This morning I helped with a mind-numbing, thankless task of stuffing envelopes full of forms for our local public school. Most sane folks won't even return the phone call that comes asking for help with things like that, but I know it helps out in a small way, it feels nice to know I can be counted on, and it allows me to reconnect with a few other helpers in a positive direction.

Plus we get the inside skinny that other parents with 'more important things to do' miss. Our childrens' education is a core issue for me.

-- flora (***@__._), August 09, 2000.


I'm doing absolutely NOTHING. This is not to say that I've done NOTHING in my past. If my history is any example, I can say that having put others first most of my adult life has put me in a place now where I can give nothing until I HAVE something. There must be balance, and there hasn't been balance in MY life.

If I may give a moment to philosophy, balance seems to come from one being drained of ALL resources, or one having an experience at the other end that causes one to realize that they've done nothing of significance in their life. I'm not convinced we realize that balance didn't exist until balance no longer exists and is noticeable.

I've spent too much time putting my children and my parents FIRST. Going back to what Eve once mentioned, one can't help others unless he puts HIMSELF first. The "excess" should be offered, but not the basic.

-- Anita (, August 09, 2000.

Good responses so far-

Patricia-lest I give the wrong impression, my credo about "what their feet are doing" is more about making observations about public behaviors-for instance, most of you folk know I am an AAer, and many people talk a great game in the meetings. What we tell people to watch for is that "spiritual giant" who later is flirting, or even dating the brand new women/man who walked through the door-a definte no-no. Things like that.

I too believe that acts of kindness left unshared are the best; going around telling everybody how charitable you are can lead to spiritual pride. I asked for input on this thread not to be provocative, but to see how others have benefitted from the experience of charity.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), August 09, 2000.

There exists a spiritual path called Karma Yoga. One definition is union with God through service to others. The main prerequisites are compassion in action coupled with unconditional love. Each of us can adopt these tenets to one extent or another, make them a part of our everyday lives. Patricia describes karma yoga quite well in her post above. It is about identifying each individual we meet as valuable, as a child of God, worthy of a kind word, a hand on the shoulder, a smile from the heart.

I am not always successful in accomplishing these lofty goals. Anyone who knows me would be nodding their head quite rapidly in agreement! Thats OK. Just remember that each moment in time is an opportunity to brighten someone elses life, our own lives included! Do this often enough and you too can consider yourself a karma yogi. Looks good on a resume.


-- Bingo1 (, August 09, 2000.

My mom used to say 'the best thing you can to to help yourself, is to help somebody else.' I've found this to be true. Sometimes the most mundane things end up having the most value and meaning, down the line.

{When I would complain about circumstances she bring me up short, saying "nothing is so bad, that it couldn't get worse".}

-- flora (***@__._), August 09, 2000.

reaping & sowing--it-works-need a friend-=be a friend!! hang-out with the=''twinkler's'' avoid=grouch's!! & beware of=self-pity!! on a mountain-top now?=be thankful----in the valley--get thru it-- don,t camp there!!

-- al-d. (, August 09, 2000.

When I was younger, and had more time, I volunteered as a suicide hotline counselor. I have done clinic escort volunteer work and could tell you some harrowing stories. I've also volunteered at my local animal shelter and all of my animals were adopted from there. I don't celebrate Christmas so I usually spend the holiday at a soup kitchen or toy drop.

I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like, so I find myself giving more money than time.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (, August 09, 2000.

As far as helping others being a route to helping one's self, the easiest way to look at this is that in any work of charity, and work of love, the "spark" has to pass through us to get to the other person. Call it God's love, or in Tarzan's case, call it the highest expression of the kindest act within one's self, call it whatever you would like-but the positive vibe goes through us and we are touched.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), August 09, 2000.


"-- don,t camp there!!"

That's a classic!

-- flora (***@__._), August 09, 2000.

For the most part I've given money for various causes, as my time has been limited. But for now, if its ok, I wanted to focus on one issue.

I took a month off work to arrange and supervise home hospice and nursing care for my mom the month before she died. She ended up passing away peacefully, with her last days being surrounded by her husband, children and grandchildren; very much aware of our presence and conversing (in very limited ways) with us. My questions to y'all are: Had I done this same thing for a stranger (at no cost to my mom) would it somehow have been a more noble act? Less noble? The same? And could you share why you feel this way?

-- eve (, August 09, 2000.

Or, here's a slightly different take: what *aren't* you doing that makes a contribution? I was originally going to make a smart-mouth comment about not dropping my Dew cans in the lake while I'm fishing, but I realized there was a bit more significance to that insight: for instance, I have one neighbor who refuses to buy her milk, laundry soap, etc. in plastic containers, and she is careful to recycle all that she can. Another neighbor who changes his own oil is careful to take the used oil to the recycling center, instead of dumping it down the sewer or in the backyard, where it can get into our aquafiers.

These are little things when taken against the context of the entire society, but I look at them as individuals taking the time to clean up after themselves for the benefit of All.

-- (, August 10, 2000.

FS, you didn't give "the wrong impression"; which was why I wanted to make certain you realized what I wrote was in no way meant as an offense to you. I understand (and at times "subscribe to") the need (or desire) for a little "boost" at times (the proverbial fire under one's butt, as it were).

eve, had you performed this selfless act for ANYONE it would have had exactly the same meaning. There are times when performing an act of charity or kindness to/for a complete stranger is considered (by some) as "the better act", but I don't see it that way. Although, if one performs an act of kindness towards, say, one's "enemy", I can see how that would be considered a "better act" than if one performs same for one's friend. I think what it comes down to (e.g., the degree of goodness of the act) is what your intentions were in performing the act. And you are the only one who knows what is in your heart.

Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about :-)

kb8um8: "These are little things when taken against the context of the entire society..." I don't think they ARE "little things". "Little things" (in that context) have a way of adding up to "big things" when enough people take the time to do them. I "don't do" the same things as much as I can.

Wow, I got the "al-d" Seal of Approval.....kewl. "it,s those little-spur of the moment- blessings!!---just go with the flow!!--no pressure-needed!" Yes, al, it IS the "spur of the moment" type things that turn out to mean more than most.

And al touched on a point there that needs to be emphasized. I think what may be happening to you, FS, in some ways, is that you ARE putting an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself to "give". This can only lead to having the complete opposite effect you wanted. Let up a bit on yourself and I think you'll find it comes a bit easier; a bit more naturally. I realize I don't "know" you, but you do seem to be a naturally giving person. Just let it happen.

-- Patricia (, August 10, 2000.

Mornin' Patricia,

Thanks for your input. I think, assuming the character of the person is roughly the same in each case, youre absolutely right. And I agree that your intentions are very important. In a nutshell, I think it comes down to context. In other words, is the recipient basically a good or bad person; would the gift be squandered, etc.  i.e., is the recipient in some way deserving of your help? And are you in the position to give, or would it amount to an unreasonable sacrifice on your part?

Anyway, take a look at the following post (from a philosophy forum) for an interesting angle from the psychology of the donors self- esteem...

In my experience, acts that can be defined as generous arise from two main motivators: high or low self-esteem.

The low self-esteem individual gives in order to feel loved, accepted. To have a place in the world--to be liked for what he gives rather than what he is. This is the source of the code of altruism-- the sense that one is not enough, that a place in "heaven" can be bought by giving--that one can somehow occupy a bigger space in the world, be MORE, by giving to others. He cannot look at his generosity as a trade, because if it is reciprocated then he is back behind the eight-ball--he is once again not enough, not the most loved, the most needed, the most respected. This individual feels obligated to give and tells others of their obligation as well. He feels undeserving to receive.

The high self-esteem individual gives for the sheer joy of it. Because he can. Because others whom he values show their pleasure at being the recipients of the gifts, whether in time, money, goods, or whatever. The high self-esteem individual expresses his love of life in sharing what he has with others--whether they are in need or not-- others whose joy he can in some way enhance or share. He is unafraid to give and equally unafraid to receive. This sort of generosity is a two-way proposition--he also shows generosity who accepts graciously the gifts of others. He has no sense of obligation, but a simple sense of pleasure at sharing that which is his to give.

Thus, I do not see generosity as a character trait of the variety that shyness has been demostrated to be--highly heritable and not very malleable--but a chosen behavior which changes with the psychological health of the individual, and can be observed to change, whether deliberately or consequentially over the lifespan of a given individual. As far as learning, yes, generosity can be modeled, but lacking the self-esteem to support the behavior, the version which will be produced will be of the desperate self-saving type rather than the magnanimous, self-valuing type. We are better off to facilitate self-esteem in others whose upbringing falls to us, and they will create a moral code for themselves which will include benevolence in many guises.

-- Carol B. Low, Psy.D.

-- eve (, August 13, 2000.

I'm not sure I should even be on this topic, for when it comes to giving, doing acts of kindsness or charity, or simply working on a worthwhile civic project, I have mixed feelings.

First, I have to ask what good does a prayer group do? This is not meant to be sarcastic, as I'm sure some may think, just curious.

And as far as what the motive is for doing good works, I really don't think it matters, as long as it's benefiting a person, animal or enviornment. As far as getting a rush from doing good, that never, occurred to me, and if I thought I was doing it for that reason, I probably wouldn't have.

Like Patricia, I don't think one should flaunt good works, just as one shouldn't flaunt religion, and how pious one is, nor flaunt sex to show how sexual one is. Somethings should remain private.

And al, I don't think your Christian proselytizing is holding up very well when you say "avoid grouch's!!" Some people I've known who needed a kind word, or few minutes of attention the most were big grouches. They often try to cover loneliness, sorrows, or a tragedy with grouchiness.

I once befriended an old woman that everyone thought was horrible, but me and my boss. I didn't do this out of kindness; I simply found her interesting. She cussed worse than I do, wore the most awful garbs, ran around with a married man that was 15 years her junior and had a very sharp tongue. Her family was mortified by her.

She dealt in antiques and was very good at it. I was young then and interested in antiques and she helped me a lot. Once she asked me to come by and see some new stuff she had. We had a nice visit and she told me a little bit about her past life and she'd had a rough time. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't make judgments about grouches unless you only want to be with happy face people, who never say a discouraging word. Baloney.

Concerning doing good. I help with animals and the environment. I always have and always will, simply because I love animals and the earth, no other reason. When my folks were alive I helped them, but that's different, that's family. But when I look around at the animals I have, or have found homes for, that were tossed away by thoughtless people, who no longer wanted them because they were too old, too much trouble, left hair on the furniture, caused an allergy, or cost them a few dollars, or some other pitiful excuse, then I'm grateful I have these wonderful friends who accept me warts an all, and I love them for the wonderful creatures that they are.

My conscience would kill me if I just let them join the thousands of other throw-away strays, that are dumped daily by loving, God-fearing people.

-- gilda (, August 13, 2000.

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