2007-11-19 Inspired by religious musings

Two comments that happened over at Entries in Life

The first

In response to this entry:

I've been disturbed recently by what seems to be a trend towards charity by proxy. We give money, but far too often that's either to an organization which skims off its share and passes some subset along to another organization which... until someone actually does something with what pittance is left, or (perhaps and) counterproductive, as in money to panhandlers, or wheat to Africa.

I'm part of an organization that runs a reasonably successful fundraiser every year. We do it for the sake of the activity, but we've got it to the point where it brings in money. Now we're trying to figure out what to do with that money, and there's a lot of "we could give it to X", rather than "we could use it to this end".

It seems like that "incarnate understanding of poverty" is what most people go out of their way to avoid, and it's only by treating charity as something we roll up our sleeves and actively do that we not only get the larger good effects, but we get the closer to home notion of what it is we're actually working towards, and a better understanding of the sort of change in the world necessary to really bring that shift about.

The second

In response to this entry:

I've used it so many times that people are going to start smacking me when I bring up this reference, but I was reading SLA Marshall's book "Men Against Fire", which was used for a time as a textbook by the Marines in figuring out how to train recruits, and it pointed out that more than life itself, we humans value the approval of our peers.

It is, on one hand, easy to play the loner and say "not for me, the heck with all y'all", I chose to take it the other way and look for circumstances in my life where I was unhappy, and try to see if participating in a community, finding the approval (and even accolades) of my peers, would help me to be happier.

I believe that we seek banal diversions because they're easier, they require no risk, we don't have to put ourselves out there to other people, to depend on them, to have them depend on us, to interact with them, but I think the lesson from training infantry is that tackling those challenges is what we're hardwired to find joy in.

Whether you attribute that to leftover mechanized remnants of the evolutionary process or to a personal relationship with a deity or deities is your business, but when I find myself looking "to be entertained", I've tried to re-train myself to go looking for experiences I can have that involve other people.

In general, I think this has made me happier, in that deeper more lasting sense of happiness. If your wiring interprets that as "Godly passion", more power to ya, that's roughly how I interpret between our languages.

And the easiest place to do that is a circumstance with a common goal and a variety of participants, quite often that's a charitable undertaking.

On being in "...a position to tell others to do what I haven't yet accomplished...", the strongest argument someone can make to me is to live a joyful life. Telling me, not so much, but passively showing me? That gets my attention.

Category: Dan Lyke life