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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is Selfless Giving a Fiction?

Regarding giving to others, how often do you experience each of the following motivations--seldom, sometimes or frequently?
a. to feel in control
b. to feel needed
c. to receive in return
d. to get people to like me
e. out of obligation

(Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1455).

I like to think of this first on the national level in terms of defense or foreign aid.  Thinking of WWII; try assessing "a" through "e" in relation to United States motives, specifically considering the Marshall Plan.  Then think of our present foreign aid budget.  In the light of "a" through "e" analysis, to what extent can it be seen as based on selfish  motives?  Consider also national domestic policy in taxing and spending.  Then think of the last time you made a donation...repeat the same queries.

It becomes increasing clear that giving to others can be based upon multiple, sometimes mixed motives. Personally, as I go down the list it is increasing apparent that my giving is not entirely based upon empathy and compassion with no selfish expectations of my own.  Just the other day someone wanted a ride to an appointment assuming I would take them there, but they did not initially consult with me as to what would be a good appointment time for my schedule. I, somewhat miffed, "out of principle" suggested they reschedule to a time earlier in the day.  I wanted to be forthcoming, but not without a significant measure of control.  I have written elsewhere of my need to "feel needed" if I am to be happy and have a strong self-concept.  I have a friend staying with me intermittently and I must admit I am very pleased when he sweeps the floor and vacuums--I like this "return" in part because it symbolizes appreciation.  (And what is "appreciation" but acknowledgement that I did something I didn't have to do.  You are recognizing in a sense that "I was in control." ) I suppose standing naked and alone I am not all that likable; I will be the first to admit that many others have more "going for them" than I.  Therefore, I occasionally try to buy affection with any resource at my disposal.  "Guilt trips" are very unpleasant for they show I am deficit in admirable traits.  I fear being seen as a hypocritical Christian and sometimes buy insurance against such a perception.  Overall, it's clear I very seldom give to others without at least some measure of selfishness....declining here to use the more innocuous term "self-interest".

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