My mother always maintained that if you weren't doing a good deed out of the kindness of your heart, you weren't really doing a good deed. I turned this thought over in my mind for some years and decided to disagree. A good deed is a good deed. Surely it doesn't matter if you're doing it selflessly, or in anticipation of praise, or through fear of reprisal. The end result is the same - the deed gets done. Say thankyou and go home.

And the pragmatic (ie greater) part of me still feels the same. But the romantic (ie atrophied) part of me has always been on her side. So the pedantic (ie overused) part of me has resolved the argument thus: you have good deeds, and then you have good people. Good deeds are done for any number of reasons, but only doing them selflessly makes you a good person.

I have pledged to do fifty good deeds. I'm doing them because I need to feel like my life is worthwhile. Because I need something to feel proud of; through which to gain back some self-esteem. Because I need to fill in my time, and build a social network. Because I need, I need, I need. Me.

So the deeds get done, and you know, I think that's the main thing - let's not forget it - but I don't think it makes me a good person, and frankly I get a little uncomfortable when you say so (sweet as that is). Then again, I need to keep writing the report cards in order to stay motivated and committed to the task. So.

The next Thursday Report Card is coming up. Please tell me stories about similar charities in your area, and how you/your cousin/neighbour/whoever worked for them. Please tell me stories about that guy you knew/knew of who once benefitted from a similar deed. Tell me about related good deeds, or unrelated good deeds, or even better deeds. Or tell me if you think it's not so much a good deed as a complicated, double-edged deed with both benefits and drawbacks and did I ever think of that? But don't tell me I'm a good person. Because the kindness of my heart is not what's at the heart of my kindness. Thanks.

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We're technically moved in, insofar as we're sleeping in our new flat (albeit badly on a single - sorry "twin" - airmattress, yes, both together, I know, I'll explain later) but can't yet eat there (cook there, to speak more stricly - later, I promise). I'm about halfway caught up with your blogs. It'll all happen.


4 Comments

Lut said...

You want to know what I really think?
Every good deed you do is valuable.

The obsession with being 'a good person' is a bit foreign to me. I see it's a recurring theme in hollywood movies, where people are either all good or all bad. Real people are always a bit of both. I wonder whether this is an inheritence of Protestant thinking, there are chosen ones and you can recognize them because they are good all the time. No room for error.

Compare to the Catholic view: sin, repent, sin, repent, ... There is much room for error.

By now you should realize that I'm making this up as I go along. :-)

serenity said...

Oh, Bea. IF really damages our self-esteem, no?

The question is... Who is *really* selfless in this world? Frankly, no one is fully selfless.

Case in point: Mother Theresa did good deeds because, as she said throughout her life, it was her "vocation" to do good deeds. A vocation, (as defined by dictionary.com) is: "a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career."

By your pedantic definition, Mother Theresa was selfish. She had a need, an inclination, to help others. She probably started the same way as you - had this desire to make her life more than what it was at the time.

Deeds or no, you ARE a good person. Don't let infertility take that away from you.

(As a total aside: as I write this I am strongly reminded of the scene in the "Wizard of Oz" where the wizard can't pronounce philanthropist and instead calls the Tin Man a "good deed doer." Not sure why.) :)

Bea said...

Yeah, you know I pretty much agree. I'm happy with my level of goodness, just wanted to request some in-perspective comments. Your religious debate, lut, is a blog in itself, I'm sure...

Bea

Vee said...

Doing a good deed is a feel good thing to do.
Whether it helps make you feel good or whether it helps make others feel good. So why not do it ? It is a win win situation.

As for telling you my stories.
Ummm....I have told you about the goat I bought, giving money to the young busker and the protesting and signing of petitions to keep the Rehab hospital and Riding school open.
Ummm, well today I went to my friends mothers funeral who died of cancer.
Instead of accepting flowers they had envelopes for the the cancer foundation.
So you could make a donation instead of giving flowers. Although flowers are a beautiful gesture the money donations go a long way. I think many people are doing this these days because they realise what a difference a few dollars can make to eg. to cancer research. and well as we all know flowers don't last forever.

Obviously good deeds don't always involve money, just simple gestures like whilst at the pathologist last week for a couple of hours, I held the door open for many invalids struggling to open the door. It was helpful in such a simple way and appreciated. I didn't have to do that but I wanted to.

I understand we don't do it for the pat on the back, in fact if you hadn't of bought this topic up I wouldn't have told anyone I bought a goat it was for the good of the people and in return of course it does make me feel good.

I am seriously thinking of shaving my head for a cure, just plucking up the courage.
www.worldsgreatestshave.com

I still think you are a good person ;)

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