And this from a lovely, decent, God-fearing woman. No daw, but delightful in every way. She just thought that every act is motivated by self-interest, whether one admits it or not.
So, despite appearances or protestations, you might engage in a random act of kindness…
- because you hope for a reward, be it admission to heaven, a chocolate biscuit or a smile of approval.
- because you want to feel good, and doing good for someone else will generate that good feeling.
- or because you feel a moral imperative to do the right thing, and to fail to do so would be a source of shame or self-recrimination. (This needn’t necessarily be traced to Catholic or some other kind of lurking guilt, but often is).
Whichever of the three categories best describes what’s going on in your head at the time you do something kind, self-interest is at the back of it. So my lovely friend from Antwerp says.
And she doesn’t say it as an excuse to avoid doing good, to dismiss it as pointless. No. She’ll still act with kindness, but refuses to dress it up as altruism.
I follow her logic and admire her character, but I can’t bring myself to agree. I can’t prove it or display it but I believe it exists – the altruism that prompts random acts of kindness without even the wink of self-interest. Maybe call it goodness – whether it be innate or fleeting.
I may never have dished it out but I have certainly been the grateful recipient. Or so I stubbornly believe.
The question of random acts of kindness was raised by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, the members of which have given their own views on the matter. You can read what they think by going to the right hand side of the page and scrolling down till the find the links to the blogs of the LBC members in America, Europe and Asia.