A Thought to Close the Year

I was just reading a story at TheOneRing about an unreported act of kindness. “MrCere”, the author of the piece, was so moved by what he was made privy to on his trip to New Zealand to cover ‘The Hobbit’, that his urge to somehow capture it for posterity seemed barely contained. Mostly the piece was about the effect the revelation of the kindness had on him. It was ineffably sweet, and I was relieved he refrained from giving many particulars. The kindness needs no unveiling in order for it to edify. It’s enough to know that it happened. Besides, kindness always was best done intimately.

Happy New Year to everyone.

31 Comments

  1. “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (King James Bible / Matthew 6:3)

    Happy New Year!!! (hope 2012 is full of opportunities to randomly act kindly)

  2. Exactly.

    So well said. :)

  3. Amen Kitty! I quoted that to a friend just the other day. She’d never heard it before but thought it good advice! Love this article. Restores your faith in mankind (for us jaded folks, especially!!!) ;) Thanks for sharing Frenz. I need to visit TheOneRing more often.

  4. i don’t think I’ve ever before read an article that told me so little yet made me feel so good! Sometimes we need more “essence” and less details to appreciate something great.

  5. This is a sweet story, but I have to point out, because I’m a curmudgeon, that by telling it he broke his own rule. It’s one of the paradoxes of charity (if one urges others to be charitable or tries to set an example, one comes in for charges of being a show off), unfortunately, but what it does point out for me is that we never ever know the full story on something. What we know about what’s happening with regard to anything is always only a piece of what’s really going on. It’s an important lesson to me as I true to learn to be less judgmental. We never know what burdens others carry; we never know about many things done in secret.

    Happy solar New Year, Frenz.

  6. But he stopped short, and we still get to share in the effect it had on him, which hopefully makes us better.

    Frankly, I hope the particulars are never known. People who really do acts of kindness don’t do it for public consumption — or shouldn’t.

  7. BTW, well said. We honestly don’t know what others are struggling with. I try not to make assumptions, but it’s a daily battle.

  8. “People who do acts of kindness shouldn’t do it for public consumption”: I have a quibble here, and it’s probably because of living in Mexico, and because of my exposure to Judaism, and this is absolutely a hot button issue for me, and I know your purpose in writing wasn’t to argue about this. Maybe I should shut up or take this off blog, but I’ll say my piece and then quit. I think, following Maimonides, that there are gradations of charity. The most valuable are done in silence and secrecy (and assist the beneficiaries to becoming independent). But those that are done publicly, even if part of the motivation includes being praised for participating, are also valuable. In essence, an act of kindness, if it is kind, is kind independently of the motivation of the doer. People who are hungry need to be fed; naked people need to be clothed; the imprisoned need to be visited. If someone needs to be praised publicly for doing those things in order to get them done, I can live with it, and I don’t want to be judging their motivation.

  9. it’s a daily battle: me too. It’s a fact that big donors to charities do horrible, horrible things in private, and that people who appear to be terrible Scrooges save all their income their whole lives to donate it to scholarship funds. We see examples every day. I want to be glad for the act done to help the suffering — whatever the reason — that’s my goal.

  10. Let me rephrase. People who really do acts of kindness don’t do it to gain an audience.

  11. I can’t agree with that — I think plenty of people do kind things, things that are *inherently* kind, to gain an audience (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is an example), but I don’t want to argue, really. This is a fundamental dividing line between Christianity and Judaism and one of the ways in which Christians and Jews most often misunderstood each other, right from the beginning. I support people doing kind things without seeking credit, so I agree with you there.

  12. LOL! I’ll clarify again. I’m not speaking of the effect on the recipient but of the motivations of those who act. People who are motivated by kindness to act toward others are not looking for an audience as the end result. I don’t know about Bill and Melinda Gates’ motivations, but I hope their public acts of kindness are done to bring awareness to others of what more needs to be done and not in any way to make themselves look good. Of course it does make them look good, but again, I hope that’s not their motivation.

  13. As to Jews and Christians misunderstanding each other, I would have to understand how you see Christians’ views of acts of kindness versus Jews’ views. I know how I understand it having studied both, but I am not entirely sure of your viewpoint. I know some of your viewpoint but not enough to discuss. Define terms, I hope you feel free to do that and know I’m not the least bothered to talk about this on blog. I think we’ve come far enough that we can. Hope we can.

  14. And I don’t claim to be an expert on Judaism nor Christianity. But I love to discuss.

  15. I don’t know why they do what they do, specifically, but the reason that most large companies and wealthy people create foundations and engage in philanthropy is related at least in part to public relations. I hope the Gateses do what they do for the reason you specify, but I think, for example, that the stuff that their foundation appears to do in Africa is inherently good even if they were doing it for the most base possible reason I could imagine.

    And so I would say: we shouldn’t ask about motivation. We should simply urge each other to act kindly, and when we see people acting kindly, we should think, “thank you for doing this kind thing” and if we have urged them to act, thank them for their response. However, there’s a certain paradox involved there. As soon as we are aware of and grateful for someone’s kindness, we make it impossible for them to have acted in secret. The most common reason anyone gives, it turns out, according to philanthrophy research, is that someone asked them to. Does that make their gift less kind, because it did not happen in secret?

    To bring this down to a point for me: the operative issue in my life relating to this issue is that I grew up in a faith in which motivation was constantly in question. The result was that if there was ever any dilemma as to whether motivation was acceptable or not, things didn’t get done, because a good act could not come from a bad motivation (Paul’s “good fruit from a good tree” argument). As an adult, however, living in Mexico, where a great deal more poverty confronts one every day than in the U.S., I concluded: if I do a kind thing, whether I do that out of resentment or fear or love or the desire to be praised, in the end, the act is still kind. The beneficiary still benefits. The hungry person is still fed.

    I don’t force this attitude on anyone. People can still question the motivation of the giver if they want and argue that if the giver acts in part for his/her own benefit, the act is not kind. I choose not to make that distinction anymore.

  16. Before or if we start, one more clarification, and I hope we don’t cross post.

    My thinking of charity is that it is very powerful when done in the context of a relationship — whether a close relationship or not. We are relational people, and so I believe most people are more affected if someone they know or at least become acquainted with does an act of kindness toward them rather than an organization. Don’t get me wrong. Organizations are sometimes necessary to achieve critical mass in giving. I’d be a fool to overlook that dynamic. But it never trumps personal contact. Hence the best charitable organizations are those that are long on personal contact.

  17. No question the end result of feeding or clothing someone who is hungry or naked is the same no matter the motivation of the giver/helper.

    The point I was making very obliquely is that selfishness as a motivation never satisfies the giver, or should I say it only satisfies temporarily. Because it’s about performance for others instead of something overflowing out of love and compassion.

  18. Maybe. I guess I don’t think the point of charity lies primarily in its power to affect recipients, except as G-d commands us to help the poor and comfort the suffering and that may be a side effect of our actions. I think the most important point of charity lies in its power to change those who act charitably, and that that capacity to change the giver is largely independent of its capacity to affect the recipient. I am commanded to give what I can to those who ask me to do so, first because G-d commands me to act charitably to my fellow humans, and secondly because people are in need — whether or not that action changes the situation of need or the attitudes of the people in need themselves. I believe that I should give whether or not my gift changes the recipient. That’s probably an important difference that we haven’t explored yet.

    Since you asked (feel free to delete this if you don’t want it here, honestly, Frenz):

    I think there is a conflict in what you say between relationality and anonymity. I’m not sure that you can have both, realistically. This is not a problem, of course, if the effect of charity is not a concern. I tend to prefer anonymity myself, but if relationality is the motivator for action with other people, I’m all for that. I want the hungry to be fed, even if for only one night.

    My mother and father are very involved in charity work in their religious community. (So if you wonder where I get all the incentive to plug Mr. Armitage’s charities on my blog, there you have it — it was laid in my cradle. My parents both also work/worked for the same fraternal organization, which is set up to help people in their broader faith community. And I worked for an educational charity part-time for a year. I have no shame or hesitance. Oh, and I sold GS cookies as a kid, so I really learned to ask with impunity.) My parents would agree that charity is relational. I don’t disagree in the sense that I would ever foolishly argue that it’s not relational. When I called people to ask them to give to an educational foundation, they gave, if they gave, because of their relationship to the institution. And in turn those gifts (which largely went to scholarship funds) created relationships among recipients with that institution that would (the institution hoped) someday generate further gifts. The US government gives charity in the form of certain kinds of entitlements but it’s not building a relationship with those people in the sense that we mean, and it’s unlikely that the vast majority of welfare recipients will ever see themselves as embedded in a situation that gives them incentives to give back to the government themselves — although one hopes they might act charitably in other ways.

    The problem with a heavily relational charity from my perspective is that it tends also to be implicitly conditional. My father is a master at conducting blood drives; he’s got it all down to a science. He started at it when he was in the army, and he’s been doing it for years, but unfortunately he only does it now for the benefit of people in his church. That’s great for the people in the church, but what about the other people who live in town who don’t belong to his church or any church at all? What about the people who are radically without relationship? Who watches out for them? Are they not worthy of charity, because no one seeks to come into relationship with them? And what about my father? Is he acting unkindly because he derives a certain self esteem from organizing these highly successful blood drives? He’s not ridiculously proud, but neither (cough) is he humble. And he is the face of blood drives in his church. I hope he tells other people how he does it before he’s too decrepit to do so. What saves this from my perspective is that it’s about what the action of giving and soliciting others to give means to him — not about what it requires the recipient of the blood / charity to do. I am sure that many people give blood in those blood drives because they feel that they cannot be seen not to. Yet, in the end, because those people gave blood — for whatever reason they give it — they are helping someone out who needs them, someone who may never know who they are. They are still acting kindly, even if they are doing so under social pressure. And I hope that the action of giving may eventually change their motivation — but even if it doesn’t do so, the suffering are still aided. Relationality plays a role in the decision to give here, but not in the effect; the effect of the donation lies solely in G-d’s hands. And since blood donations often do not go to the person on whose behalf they are solicited, anonymity plays a role, too.

    (Incidentally, conditionality is one of my problems with Armitage’s endorsement of the Salvation Army, a group about which I have extremely mixed feelings on numerous grounds. At least in the towns I have lived in, Salvation Army shelters only take individuals who are not substance addicted, esp those who are not alcoholic. They do this on principle. This principle comes from their history — alcohol abstinence was a key point in their early identity — and I understand why they uphold the principle. At the same time, since so many of the homeless are substance addicted, from my perspective donating to the SA creates certain problems. Are the substance addicted not deserving of a warm, dry shelter during the winter? Is it kind to marginalize them in this way? Doesn’t refusing them entry to shelters cut them even further off from the relationships that could help them? And: isn’t the housing of the homeless an inherently virtuous act? I endorse them because he does, and I justify myself by saying that I’m really shilling for his position, and not making a moral critique, but this is one moment where I have serious qualms.)

    re: Christians vs Jews:

    Matthew 6:3 is an excerpt from the sermon on the mount; Matthew is the Gospel text most clearly directed at winning over Jews (it begins with a series of proof texts intended to show that Jesus is the Messiah whose coming was said to be foretold in Isaiah, for instance). So it takes on Jewish attitudes head on in ways that the other Gospels do not. (John, for example, the Gospel with the latest historical date, has very clearly surrendered most of the attempt to win over Jews at all.) The full text on charity reads (NKJV): “1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you.”

    This is actually an extremely “Jewish” moment — a point at which the Jesus of the text is heavily interacting with ideas from the Judaism of his times and laying them out again from a particular perspective for a Jewish audience. Jesus says the believer has no reward from G-d if s/he does his/her charity in order to be seen. This is a particularly radical reading of an idea constant in rabbinic Judaism from the Mishnah — that some kinds of charity are better than others — except that Jesus is saying that some charity is worthless in terms of heavenly reward. (He really doesn’t sound like a Protestant here, but that’s by the bye — I will come back to this in a second.) If the point for the doer is heavenly merit, one could conclude, then one should not act publicly. Others “have their reward,” as he says — presumably the admiration or envy of their fellow humans.

    Probably the most easily accessible summary of rabbinic Jewish ideas about charity is found in Maimonides, see here for a modern translation: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/45907/jewish/Eight-Levels-of-Charity.htm Although this is a post-biblical text, obviously, we can still see here the tradition that Jesus was in contact with. Except that Jesus is saying, there is no heavenly merit in deeds of charity done from the wrong motivation (“to be seen by men”) whereas Maimonides is enumerating a series of lesser value acts of charity that relate to increasingly problematic motivations. The best merit comes from a certain sort of act, but other, lesser kinds of merit comes from other sorts of acts. In other words, some charity has more merit than others, but no act of charity is completely without merit. Jesus is said to have embraced this position by Mark (the first of the Gospels to be written down), in the parable of the widow’s two mites, in which he argues, apparently paradoxically, that it is the extent of the sacrifice that determines its merit before G-d, rather than the amount of the gift.

    Rabbinic Jews would have tended to argue that charity (tzedakah) is an act of righteousness and justice, but in particular, an act of obligation. G-d expects it of me; it is one of the laws. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it. Motivation was radically absent from such discussions, which was why it made sense from the perspective of the Jesus of the Gospels to criticize this point and the sort of action that stemmed from it (“if I don’t want to do this, at least I should get something from it, like social approval.”). The standard interpretive mode of medieval Catholicism became the argument that the point of the act of charity was the act in itself. Arguments about the motivation of the act were irrelevant (charity is good in itself because it is meritorious) as were discussions of the worthiness of the recipients. Hence you have the medieval Catholic tradition of charitable foundations in which people gave (a meritorious act) in order to endow the actions of other people (choirboys, priests, scholars, but also the poor, who were expected to pray for their benefactors) which would in turn generate more merit through their prayers. Such acts were seen in terms of the moral cooperation that both the major medieval theories of how justification worked (condign merit; congruent merit) required from believers for salvation. My students always have difficulty believing that these these theories are not heretical from the standpoint of Augustine — they read like a sort of semi-Pelagianism; I’m not talking in absolute terms here but relating what the Latin Church before the Reformation taught / believed. The point here is that act of conducting charity changed the person who conducted it, both through his own efforts and those of the beneficiaries. It gave him more merit before G-d, and the moral cooperation involved infused people with grace so that they were changed.

    Once the Reformation rolled around, however, the discussion of merit went out the window. To a man the Reformers argued that it was not possible for humans to cooperate in their salvation; any charitable action was thus a response to justification rather than an action moving toward it; humans did not become more justified through any action, but instead G-d assigned them a status of justification (he imputed grace to them). Humans had no power to win their justification or change anything about G-d’s action toward them. This shift drastically changed the motivation for charity (and there’s a longstanding debate among historians about whether it also changed the concrete practice of charity). On this view, if a person acted charitably it was in response to the changes that G-d had already worked in him/her, not out of his own volition. Charity had no inherent merit. The question became why the charitable person engaged in charity at all; as part of the question of sanctification it made sense that a changed person gradually began to act more and more in ways that would reflect the divine decree. So a tendency arose to ask about motivation: WHY are you engaging in charity? Don’t do it if you think it will get you anything with G-d.

    Since you asked (grin), I object to this stance both on textual and on rational grounds. First, it seems to me that Jesus is not saying, “don’t do any charity so that others notice you doing it,” although that is what many readers of the text seem to conclude. He is only saying, “don’t brag about your charity if you’re hoping for divine merit from the charitable act,” and in fact, he admits that people who do charity publicly have a reward from it (presumably the esteem or the envy of their fellow humans), even if it is not the divine one. Presumably there might be other motivations for doing charity, like sympathy with fellow humans — these are not addressed in this particular text, but these are grounds that constantly motivate givers (else why would we be constantly confronted with such sad pictures of starving children?). Read in the Jewish context, he seems to be reading discussions in rabbinic Judaism selectively to prioritize certain objectives (“modesty”). But as far as I know he was never asked, “do you think people should only make charitable donations if they give as secretly as possible?” Yet that is what many people conclude from reading the Gospels. In fact, Judaism doesn’t encourage people to trumpet their charitable acts; it simply accepts that even trumpeted charitable acts have their merits.

    But on rational grounds, it seems to me that example is a primary reason for motivating humans to act, and that this point is inherently a relational one that contradicts the insistence on charity in secret. Relationality makes anonymity impossible. I cannot have a relationship with someone in any meaningful sense of the world and remain anonymous or silent. We have a relationship with Richard Armitage (however any of us defines that, which is a separate matter). How many fans of Armitage might have been moved to give an extra charitable donation in addition to whatever they were already doing because he asked them to? Because he set an example? Now, I don’t think he was doing this for glory; I think he donates regularly to charities himself; he appears to have an honest awareness of how lucky his life has been and a desire to give back; and, let’s be honest, he was drowning in unsolicited gifts he didn’t know how to respond to adequately and wanted to find a way to divert some of the energy elsewhere. More people give because he asked them to, and because he stated in an interview which charities he gives to, and probably some of them give because when they do so they get a canned emailed message from him and the JustGiving site indicates that your email will be passed on to the donor if you check a particular box. In other words, probably some people are giving for the attention. I think this is an ultimate plus for everyone: Armitage, his fans, and the people who benefit from the donated monies. I don’t ask about his motivation or his justification / salvation, because that’s not my business, but it’s difficult for me to believe that this act has no merit with G-d because he stated he was doing it. I don’t ask about the motivation of the people who give, because they are the only ones who know that, and because it’s none of my business; G-d knows and G-d will judge and the judgments of the Lord are righteous and just altogether (I think that’s Psalm 19).

    In the end I hope that I am made a more loving person by giving. I also hope that my gift benefits someone — and that maybe it benefits someone who’d I’ve never have thought of because I am not in relationship with them, but who needs me nonetheless. Priority one: my obligation to obey G-d; priority two: the needs of the suffering. Anything else is gravy.

  19. Sorry my posts are out of sync. I’ve got more to say on this, but I’ll save it for tomorrow when I’m not so tired.

  20. That’s fine — it’s a serious and important topic. A vital one, even :) I am driving the next two days, though, just so you know.

  21. If we didn’t know each other offline and really care about each other, then this might be difficult to discuss here, but we do and can thankfully clarify further elsewhere if need be. I think it’s important enough to continue, so I’ll read all of your comments and respond, and I hope that no one feels they need to participate. They’re certainly welcome, but absolutely no obligation to do so.
    And you’re right that I don’t want to argue — not in the sense of being antagonistic and trying to prove I’m right. I make jokes about that at times when making assinine predictions about Richard Armitage, but I surely don’t think I’m any great shake at getting at someone’s motives or their actions. OTOH, I do have 50+ years of experiences that it’s kind of hard to completely discount, but you know, I’ve been unlearning some things the last few years, and it’s a good thing. It makes the good things I’ve learned over my lifetime that much better. See you tomorrow or whenever you can discuss. :)

  22. Christian, Jew… who cares? Charity is charity.

    I have a friend who never talks about what she does, so I will do it for her. One day a week, she volunteers at an old age home, socialising and doing manicures for those who want such treatment. One day a week, she volunteers at the Dogs’ Home… walks dogs, paints shelters, washes bedding… you name it! And one day a week she volunteers at Ronald Macdonald House cleaning, cooking and generally helping those under duress.

    As to the Salvos, in our city they do heaps to help the under-privileged, both those who are substance-addicted and not. I love the Salvos and will donate to them and the Red Cross over and over. The Salvos care of the needy comes without religious litany or the creation of guilt in the needy.

    My husband speaks little of what he has done for the last twenty years in raising monies for charities including the Salvos, so I’ll tell you about him and say that in twenty years, he and his volunteers have raised some millions from a tiny Australian state which is then given to the underprivileged .

    Me? What have I done? I did what I did when I did it because I was going through what I thought was a bad time and wondered what it might be like for those worse than myself… it gave me 8-10 years of one of the best things I’ve ever done. The other thing I did after that for four years was because I approved of the idea and it was wonderful. Most recently, I loved doing what I was doing until a leg injury put it on hold. My point is that in each instance whilst I volunteered to help others, the pay-off was self-esteem and a sense of rightness as opposed to righteousness.

    By the way, I’m neither Christian nor Jew… if anything I would like to follow the Buddhist path.

  23. This has been an interesting conversation to follow. I am a Christian, and my son’s best friend is Jewish. His parents are very dear to us, and I think (know) we are to them. Reading these back and forth comments immediately brought to mind how the driver of the car in front of me at the Krispy Kreme drive- thru apparently paid for my order as a random act of kindness during the first week of December. I have no clue who the person was and never will. She aced it on remaining anonymous! I was blown away because the bill was for $28.00, and not just the price of a doughnut and cup of coffee! I was buying doughnuts for my son’s class as a birthday treat in honor of their teacher. I just dropped my jaw and was so stunned and drilling the cashier as to who it could have been that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to at least wave at her/him as she/he drove away!

    I don’t know the person’s motivation for doing this kindness, other than maybe getting into the Christmas spirit early. Maybe she was modeling kindness for the children I saw in the car. Maybe she wanted to clear her conscience about a not so kind act, by doing something kind for someone (you know, the “cancel out good for bad” reasoning like drinking Diet Coke with a candy bar!!). Who knows and who really cares? As the recipient of the kindness, I do know that it made my faith in mankind go up several notches, and that was a good response to a kind deed, regardless of the other party’s motivation. I’ve heard of such deeds, but not experienced it firsthand quite like this. Seeing as you now need to take out a loan to buy a dozen doughnuts from KK, it was indeed an out of the park act of kindness as far as I was concerned! In turn, it made me begin to think of what I might do for someone to keep it going. By the way, it is officially 2012 where I live. Well, I probably should have stayed on the sidelines and not said anything. I just wanted to share my doughnut story because I think it is awesome that someone knowingly coughed up $28.00 instead of the 5-6 dollars they were probably expecting!!! It is almost 2:00 in the morning, and talk about “typos”…! I’m going to close and go finish the chapter I’m working on in my book before everyone wakes up and starts calling my name! I hope you all are on the receiving end of many good deeds this year, and challenge you all to do many kind things for others in 2012. It doesn’t have to have a flashing neon light all around it. Picking up something someone drops is simple, but worthy. I have left many an item behind because it was too big a deal to try to get it up! I would have liked to have had someone have mercy on me! Ha!! Ha!! Goodnight!

  24. There is so much injustice in the world.From childhood perseption of struggle and poverty of other people bother me in the use of life. I do not care about others are saying-“becouse you are helping calm your coinscience”. If at least in one case out of ten I helped someone-that is good. Deceived me nine times? who cares?

  25. Happy New Year :)
    Wishing you a year of health,
    wealth, happiness, luck, warmth…
    And loads of love of your dear ones!
    Hope the New Year
    showers you with…
    All that is beautiful!
    Happy New Year!

  26. Oh this conversation on “charity” is just up my alley. Please indulge me for one little bit. I am a director of a non profit. We offer services to over 15 thousand a year, mostly to individuals society has rejected, mentally ill, homeless, addicts and those struggling with other forms of personal hurts and societal injustices. Many people like to plug our “clients” into the deserving and non deserving categories but this time of year, the public tends to be very generous with donations to charities. We are very grateful. But here is my thing, I do not think it is charity. I think people have the right to services. Investing in people is like investing in yourself and in your community. I think those who give should be recognized. Acts of kindness should be reinforced and acknowledged whatever their intention.

    Afer working in the health and social service field for 24 years, I sometimes need recognition. Trust me when I tell you it is not a glamours field, it does not pay well, people don’t thank you readily because more often than not they are in a crisis. I do the work because it is what I believe in. Hundreds of volunteers do the work alongside me and they don’t even get paid. When i am feeling tired I lament over the lack of recognition not because I want to be boastful, but because I am human. At the risk of oversimplifying things, we all need to be validated. Sometimes we have to validate/recognize ourselves, sometimes we need others to do it and sometimes we have to rely on the powers that be (in my case Jesus/God) to do the recognizing. I wish I could get to the point where I would never need it. But I am not there yet and probably will always be needy of pat on the bac.

  27. I’m finishing my New Year’s post, and then I’ve got some other things to do this morning, but I’ll be back to finish the discussion and thanks to those of you who submitted comments. Off to post!

  28. Ceterum censeo: The Salvation Army helps a lot of people, no question, and in many places (including the city closest to my home town) it’s the only homeless shelter option. I give whatever is in my right hand pocket whenever I see a ringer, because I appreciate the work of the ringers — tedious work, and so necessary. I love many things that the Salvation Army does. And yet (at least in my home town, and in the towns I lived in in Germany — I don’t want to say everywhere, because I haven’t visited every Salvation Army shelter) it does not allow alcoholics into its shelters. This is problematic, especially in places where there are no other shelter options.

    I’ve already said way more than I should have in this discussion, so I’ll just add one last thing: gracie, I absolutely agree that the deserving / undeserving category is highly problematic, and not one I can really subscribe to myself. (I’ll refrain from discussing the historical trajectory of how those categories appeared in the West, but let me know if you want bibliography, LOL.) None of us “deserves” anything, really, but if some of us deserve it, presumably all of us do.

    gracie: thanks for your work for the non-profit, and thanks to everyone else in this thread who acts kindly out of any motivation whatsoever, and whether anonymously or publicly.

  29. Just chipping in to say how much I agree and empathise with Gracie’s comment above. My work relies on the generosity of the general public, and without this generosity, children who have a disability and who have long term illnesses would go without equipment that is necessary for their therapy and physical wellbeing. I hate having to ask for funding for say, a walking frame, but if our government won’t subsidize it, then I have no choice but to go to charitable organisations. I’m immensely grateful on behalf of the children, and I feel that the donors who make it possible for a child to have a standing frame/splint/walking frame must be acknowledged. If people know that they have benefited someone and are actually shown a tangible outcome, then they are more likely to feel that they have made a difference. I sometimes wonder whether my monthly donations to chosen charities actually reach the people who most need it to be frank and this raises the question about accountability, which is off topic as I think we are discussing simple acts of generosity and kindness in this case as opposed to support of the large well organised charities.

    I suspect in the example Larry Curtis was alluding to, the person or group of people did receive some sort of positive response from the recipients of their generous act. That would have been enough without it needing to go global. (Which, if it hit twitter and the internet, it would have done). Without wishing to sound cynical, the downside of it going public is that the same group of generous people will be continuously asked by numerous others for whatever assistance/generosity was rendered.

    A simple word of thanks for a job well done or for a kindness rendered goes a long way to recharging a person’s enthusiasm to help imo. I could not do my job properly without the generosity of others and I am incredibly grateful.

  30. I’ve thought about this post off and on for a long time. My background is such that I actually am a little conversant in Judeo-Christian history as well as the Bible, but I don’t believe any good would come out of arguing with Servetus about the issues, and this is not a commentary on Servetus but rather on the idea of arguing someone into having a Christian viewpoint. It is not what Christians are to be about. So I chose not to discuss with her and really, this blog, which is supposed to be about something completely silly and frivolous — fangirling — is not conducive to such a discussion anyway.

    In hindsight I’ve also wondered if I should have even made this post since it’s almost an insult to facilitate anything that would couch the Lord’s presence here. But I guess even though I’m anonymous, I can’t change who I am, which is a believer in Jesus Christ and the wonderful things He represents, so I made the post that moved me spiritually. I am also very mindful that this blog is not a good representation of the Lord, but it’s part of the very real odyssey I’m on, and thankfully, the Lord is forgiving.

  31. […] I’ve deduced about Peter Jackson. Part of that conclusion is predicated on the belief the cryptic post Larry Curtis made about unreported acts had something to do with […]


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