Random acts of Kindness

sorabji.com: Why did you do it?: Random acts of Kindness

SheWeazel on Friday, December 4, 1998 - 01:19 pm:

    Well, a few months ago, I bought some flowers for my ex-boyfriend. Afterward, I went next door with my friend to Hallmark to get him a card. When we got inside, the lady joked with us, asking if the flowers were for her. So, yesterday, my same friend and i went to get flowers and then went to the same Hallmark shop, and after milling around her store for a while, we gave them to her. I think it made her day!

By Kate on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 08:13 pm:

    That was so nice of you to do!!!

By Motorhead on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 11:50 am:

    I agree, a lovely thing to do in and of itself.
    But I must ask, when we humans do this sort of thing, do we do it to be "nice" to others or do we do this subconsciously as a way to gratify ourselves?
    I got the wrong change last nite at a store and I gave the mathematics deficient clerk back the extra dollar that he gave me.
    I left and felt more guilty for my "righteousness" than I did if I would have if I pocketed the buck.

By Markus on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 01:42 pm:

    Oddly, I was pondering this question on the drive home last night. I've volunteered as a firefighter/medic for the last eight years, and have run into a lot of people who are attracted to the job as well. I've often considered the motivation. Do we help people because we're selfish? This seems to dovetail with the ongoing discussion elsewhere on dating people with baggage and the saviour instinct, which I'm too lazy to try to find and link to.

By Motorhead on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 09:47 am:

    Aside from the common good instinct of preventing one's
    community from burning down, the level of altruism necessary to
    be a volunteer firefighter is obviously way above and beyond
    the simple charitable acts of buying flowers for some one or returning
    improper change. Maybe its just that I have a lot of respect for
    firefighters; my dad was a paid fireman in the inner city when I grew
    up, but I think that to put one's life on the line as more to do
    with valor and courage than it does with random acts of kindness.
    Going into a burning building to prevent someone from roasting is not random,
    it is a calculated risk.
    Nevertheless, no matter what the real motivation for our selfless acts on
    all scales, I think that it is important to continue. I think that one
    small act outweighs a lifetime of good intentions, because in some way you
    have improved the quality of life. But the fact that we do think about
    what we do and why we do it is also important, because very often we
    act out of motivations that are not easily apparent.


    PS. Markus, make sure to wear a Scott-Pak. I don't know what the old-timers aversion to these
    was, but my dad eventually died from lung cancer
    developed after battling an industrial chemical fire. The link was never conclusive but circumstantail.

By Jim aka PajamaBoy on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 10:27 am:

    Hey, Markus, do you get to slide down a pole?

By Motorhead on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 10:51 am:

    PS. SheWeazel, I did not mean to distract attention from a very nice thing that you did. You may have helped that person in more ways than you can ever imagine. Kind acts really don't warrant analysis. Just keep on making people's otherwise mundane existance that much nicer !

    Blessed Be,

By Markus on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 11:11 am:

    I dunno. I think SheWeazel's (great name) random act was more altruistic than being a firefighter, though obviously on a different scale regarding risk and benefits. We (in the fire/EMS community) never discuss it or probably even think about it, but much of what we do is selfish. The return on buying flowers for a stranger provides a much smaller payoff, so is probably more altruistic. Also, I was talking more about general motivation than the randomness, but the fact that the act is calculated rather strengthens my point, I think.

    I'm sorry about your dad, and I think the link is, unfortunately, quite likely. The oldtimers all have the attitude that air packs are for sissys, and it's more manly to eat smoke, get steam burns, etc. This attitude remains particularly prevalent in large urban departments, such as FDNY and Chicago. But there's unbelievably toxic stuff in smoke, even in an ordinary home, what with all the synthetics. Firefighting has evolved from a job into a profession in the last fifteen years or so, and the old BS attitudes are slowly leaving. I always wear an air pack, and would get my ass kicked if I tried not to.

    I spent a year and a half as a paid fire officer, and the hardest part of my job was keeping alive the eager young kids who had seen crap like Backdraft and wanted to go jumping into danger and glory with no thought of their safety or others'. Fucking punks think they're immortal.


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