For Goodness’ Sake.

The holidays are over. But I’m not done with them quite yet. There’s this saying that comes up during this time of the year.

Be Good for Goodness Sake.

It’s Kids who act good for reward. Do not be good because you want to be rewarded. Goodness is itself a reward.

This is a good idea. We want genuinely good people, but doesn’t work in practice. Most people are not this way. They work on the “Pay It Forward” system. They are good expecting other people to pass on that goodness. They desire their goodness to be appreciated and returned at a later date. This isn’t wrong, just not good for goodness sake.

No person can be truly selfless.

If there were a person who loved everyone and was selfless, they wouldn’t live in this country. You’d never hear of them by their choice because they wouldn’t care about their reputation. They’d spend their entire able-bodied life in a third world country, getting the less fortunate the help they need. They’d fight against bureaucracies and the cultural inertia that leaves those people in the spot they’re in. They’d have no time for the pleasures of life.

That statement reminds me of a news story I saw on TV a decade or so ago. There was this man who went out of his way to give back the community. He was a regular volunteer for his town’s soup kitchen. He gave money to various charities. He thought more far more than any normal person would. Then one day he met a homeless man. Winter was coming. The homeless man had nowhere to stay. The moral man had no room in his house but he built a small fort for this man to live in. He showed him how to make a fire pit. He left the man food and water on a normal basis before he went home to his wife and two kids. He checked in on him during the snow season. Then one day, he came with blankets to . The homeless man demanded money this time. The moral man refused. The homeless man stabbed him in the stomach with a shard of glass. He ran away and left the moral man to bleed to his death.

I won’t forget that story. It was an extreme case, but goes to show selflessness can get a person into trouble in the real world. True selflessness is a one way ticket to being taken advantage of by selfish people. You have to be little selfish so you can enjoy life. Make time for yourself. Pursue the things you want. Selflessness is an ideal we can’t reach.

An unfortunate truth.

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