Saturday, September 12, 2009

Milk of Human Kindness

No, not that kind of milk, you filthy-minded louts.

I'm talking about charity and its cousin, compassion.

Much as I can be a right-royal asshole, I can just as easily be a bleeding-heart teddy bear. Mental, but Mentos. Hard on the outside, chewy on the inside.

I had always been a selfish child, but children by their nature are selfish. Sharing is a concept that is taught and, hopefully, learned.

For what it's worth, over the years I have been blessed with the kindness of strangers. The guidance of mentors, the generosity of my betters. And somewhere along the way the importance of "doing the right thing" was imprinted upon me.

"Noblesse oblige" comes to mind. As Wiki defines it :

"Noblesse oblige" is generally used to imply that with wealth, power and prestige come responsibilities. The phrase is sometimes used derisively, in the sense of condescending or hypocritical social responsibility. In American English especially, the term has also been applied more broadly to those who are capable of simple acts to help another, usually one who is less fortunate.

In ethical discussion, it is sometimes used to summarize a moral economy wherein privilege must be balanced by duty towards those who lack such privilege or who cannot perform such duty. Finally, it has been used recently primarily to refer to public responsibilities of the rich, famous and powerful, notably to provide good examples of behaviour or to exceed minimal standards of decency.

In short, to whom much has been given, much is also expected.

Ah, expectations. Great expectations.

Being neither rich, famous, nor powerful - much less from any noble lineage - this should be the least of my concerns. So perhaps it is a variation of the infamous "liberal guilt"*that is at work here. But whatever it is, I cannot help but be moved by the plight of others, and usually - though by no means always - when I am in a position to help, I do so. Not out of any Christian piety nor self-righteousness, but simply because it is the right thing to do. The same way spitting on a politician is the right and decent thing to do. But I digress.

Nothing ever comes free in this world, however. Not even charity. People do expect things in return for their generosity.

I, for instance, expect some measure of gratitude. Not groveling. Gratitude. A simple "Thank you" would do.

I also expect not to be lied to, and I expect people not to abuse my kindness.

Expectation, as we know, is the mother of disappointment.

Common sense should dictate when enough is enough. The caveat about charity, however, is that there is never enough. It is a bottomless pit of needs and wants. It is Oliver Twist holding out his soup bowl and pleading "Please, sir, can I have some more?"

Compassion, alas, can grow thin. And so can charity.

I have no Messianic Complex and harbor no illusions about saving the world. After all, "God helps those who help themselves." Well, I am obviously not God, and people do tend to help themselves - to other people's kindnesses.

I've shunned people whom I've helped in the past when it became clear that they were either not doing anything to improve their situation or were simply content to coast along on free rides. I feel no guilt over that - I'm not Mother Teresa. And I'm sure even she would've browbeaten a beggar or two if she found out they were just taking her for a ride.

I know that if you teach a man to fish , you feed him for life. What's riling me at the moment is the time it's taking for certain people to learn something other than baiting their hooks.

Whenever we open our hearts, we open ourselves to abuse. It's been said that you must give until it hurts. In my case, it's not so much that it hurts, as much as it irks. In my giving, something's gotta give.

What is it again that we pave the road to hell with?

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

*Liberal guilt is a perfectly natural phenomenon exclusive to homosexuals and Grungefags by which people feel guilty for being born and/or raised in more culturally, economically , socially or genetically favorable circumstances. Basically, it's taking for granted that being a white, wealthy, healthy, straight man makes you more lucky than everybody else, and therefore that you should feel guilty for existing, since it is common knowledge that you are responsible for people's shit when they are less lucky than you. Therefore, people affected by liberal guilt are responsible for the problems of the entire universe. From Encyclopedia Dramatica


  1. To whom much is given, much is to be expected.

    That's all i can say.

    And hooray for charity and not being selfish!

  2. Hah I just give, according to what my conscience dictates. :)

    No conditions asked.

  3. @ Knox : If we're talking about street beggars or your stoplight sampaguita vendor, yes, there are no conditions, because they are strangers to me and in all likelihood we shall not cross paths again.

    The beneficiaries of my misguided sense of duty, however, are not strangers. Some of them work for me. And since it is my time and my money involved, there are always strings attached. When an employee asks me for a loan, I make sure he means a loan and not a handout. If it is a handout he seeks, I expect him to tell me so right off the bat so that I won't be expecting repayment.

    Expectations are not unreasonable, and the ones I set are not for my ultimate benefit, but theirs.If one of the boys asks for some money to start a small carinderia, I had better damn well see that carinderia or all hell will break loose. If one asks for money to buy his baby some infant formula, it better be for formula and not for him and his girlfriend to go out on the town.

    I have told the staff time and again that I am not their father. I am their boss. Perhaps it is my fault that I give a damn about their welfare, even if they themselves seem blithely unmindful of such concepts like "a future."

    I have no children of my own and so perhaps part of me sees the staff as my surrogate brats. And no matter how I cut it, just being their employer implicitly makes them my responsibility. However, I have made a conscious effort to limit my involvement in their lives to a strictly professional level. Why? Simply because as I said, I'm not their father. I'm just their boss. If I disapprove of the way they run their lives, it really is none of my business. In return, they've learned not to call me when they get thrown in jail or get another girl pregnant or any of the other interminable fixes they get themselves into.

    Forgive my rant :) - it must be all that liberal guilt.

  4. Now I see where you're coming from. I guess that's the reason why I never ventured to running my own enterprise. I'm too kind and saintly for that kind of... :)

    So you're the boss! Cool.

  5. since it is common knowledge that you are responsible for people's shit when they are less lucky than you. Therefore, people affected by liberal guilt are responsible for the problems of the entire universe

    now that's the funniest thing i've read the whole day!

    and lordy knows a need a laugh :D

  6. @Eternal Wanderer : Glad to have made you laugh hehe.

    @Knox: In business, you don't play nice. You play to win. If only the same principles could be applied to love.

  7. "Expectation, as we know, is the mother of disappointment."

    i like this. :D

    everything has a limit- even mercy. you can only do so much for people. sucks lang when they're ingrateful pa. and when you can't give anymore, sila pa may gana magalit. haha

  8. My sentiments exactly, citybuoy. I think that's why one of my guiding mottos is "Hope for the best; prepare for the worst."

    Hope differs from expectation in that hope allows for the possibility of being disappointed. Expectation jumps the gun and anticipates fulfillment.

    We do what we can, but we can only do so much.It's an unpopular opinion but I do believe that yes, everything has its limits.

    Except stupidity, perhaps. Stupidity in its varied forms is a bottomless chasm.

  9. re:limits.. we can never be too smart. :D or too cute. or too nice. :D

    at least that's what my mom told me. haha as for stupidity, so true. :D