?

Log in

AlbertJayNock

A Short Happy Story

Last night as I was leaving work I noticed another car in the parking deck with its lights on. It's always frustrating to see that, because you know some poor devil is going to come back out with a dead battery, and there's nothing you can do to help him.

But this time it was different. The car was for sale, and the for sale sign had a phone number on it! So I whipped out my handy dandy cell phone and called it. There was no answer, but I was able to leave a voice mail. I left a message saying that he didn't know me but I was out in the parking deck and noticed his lights were on.

I got in my car and drove to the coffee shop, believing that the battery would die in spite of my (admittedly meager) effort to help. But later I got a text message. It was from the car owner, thanking me and telling me that he made it out in time. This was very considerate of him, and it made me feel great.

This is the second (at least) time I have blogged about doing a good deed, which normally I think is tacky.(Maybe yesterday's confession of youthful misbehavior will balance it...sort of a "humility credit". )

I can't resist telling about this because there's so much good to be gleaned from the story. For one, it was a stroke of luck that I was able to help at all. And it was great to find a benevolent, practical use for modern communications technology (20 years ago this couldn't have happened, phone number or not.)

This is also a case of someone (moi) acting on good intentions and actually yielding a good result instead of an unintended disaster. How often does THAT happen? And most importantly and amazingly, I did a good deed that has thus far gone unpunished.

Enough incidents like this and I could turn into an optimist. Maybe even an altruist!

Comments

good job!
That was very nice and thoughtful. Good on you!

"This is also a case of someone (moi) acting on good intentions and actually yielding a good result instead of an unintended disaster. How often does THAT happen? And most importantly and amazingly, I did a good deed that has thus far gone unpunished."

You used your own time and resources to do a good deed. Unlike the government. And I believe this factor is why the government screws up so much.

"Enough incidents like this and I could turn into an optimist. Maybe even an altruist!"

Hmmm, I didn't even know you were pessimistic. You were about politics, but that is justified. :) But I have nothing against the "conventional version" of an altruist, someone who goes around doing good deeds because they genuinely enjoy helping others. Heck, I've been known to do it myself. And I'm pretty darned selfish. :D

Rand's use of the word was pretty much, IMO, meant to apply to the "duty" kind of altruist, the Immanuel Kant sort, who do good deeds because they see it as a drudging duty.

You have a good point about altruism. Altruism as commonly understood is not such a bad thing, but the kind that says that sacrifice is the ultimate goal is stupid and that is what Ayn Rand rails against.
Also, I'm not fond of the idea that if you're not one of those people who goes around doing good deeds because they genuinely enjoy it, you're some sort of inferior human being, either.

I really enjoyed an article by one W. Teed Rockwell, who wrote of Mother Teresa:

"Her morality is clearly motivated by pity, for she devotes herself exclusively to the most wretched and helpless, whom she calls "the poorest of the poor". She does not, however, appear to be driven by duty, but rather by some kind of inner prompting which she believes to be the voice of God. The most important thing for her is not to be obedient to some code of law, but to follow that inner prompting: as she said in the documentary on her life, "If it says to help the sick, you should help the sick. If it says to live in a palace, you should live in a palace."...However, thousands of people who were capable of their own kinds of greatness have merely crushed what was best in themselves by trying to imitate hers, and millions of others have given up trying to be good entirely, because her form of Christian sacrifice was the only kind of goodness they believed to be possible."

I think that pretty much hits the nail on the head regarding the "conventional sort" of altruism.
Thanks for the article excerpt. I knew that Mother Teresa was a good woman, but the quote from her gives me a new appreciation of what a wise woman she was.

I perused some of the linked article and it was very good. The author seems very good at picking out what was good and what was bad in Ayn Rand's philosophy. Most people are good at only one of those things. :)