For merit 🙂
I remember an episode of Friends where Phoebe let a bee sting her (so that it could ‘tough’ in front of its bee friends) in an effort to do a truly selfless, altruistic act. She did not want to feel good about it– hence the hurtful bee sting and Phoebe just wanted to do good.
The bee died. So did Phoebe’s point.
But, the question still exists: Can we be selfless without ego? Can we just do good?
And also– does it matter?… The NYtimes thought it did enough to publish about it and it got my attention. 😛
To quote about why Phoebe may have had a point:
“One reason people deny that altruism exists is that, looking inward, they doubt the purity of their own motives. We know that even when we appear to act unselfishly, other reasons for our behavior often rear their heads: the prospect of a future favor, the boost to reputation, or simply the good feeling that comes from appearing to act unselfishly. As Kant and Freud observed, people’s true motives may be hidden, even (or perhaps especially) from themselves. Even if we think we’re acting solely to further another person’s good, that might not be the real reason. (There might be no single “real reason” — actions can have multiple motives.)” (Source)
OR, maybe people feel selfish about how they behave and do not want to believe in kindness. Because if kindness exists then those people’s guilt over unkind behaviors must be real… Hmpf!
Now, I’m not really sure if it matters if something is 100% altruistic and nothing else. Sure, it’s an interesting philosophical debate, but I do not know if we can prove it. Or, why we need to.
Instead, what if we focus on taking care of ourselves and what our contributions to ‘the Good’ mean. Apropos: “when our desires are satisfied we normally experience satisfaction; we feel good when we do good.” (Source). Maybe instead of ‘Phoebe-ing’ to be 100% altruistic we can be ourselves and do something we consider to be 100% kind. Can you practice that?
Even if it makes you feel good… 🙂