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true acts of kindness?

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Description: re - Haiti earthquake
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Lilli
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Lelani Stolp
« on: February 12, 2010, 07:58:25 AM »

Following the suggestion from BluEGrAY that I start a new thread because the previous discussion on the events in Haiti became rather about... well... NOT the events in Haiti, here goes:

Natural disasters happen, naturally. No religious argument to be had there, but I am concerned about the nature of all the aide gushing into Haiti from everywhere around the world, including SA who could use our own army of helpers considering the dire conditions our own countrymen find ourselves in so often. Of course the help that people are offering in these bad circumstances is a good thing, but I want to know what percentage of the money raised by Hollywood stars, for example, for relief in Haiti was paid out to whom. How much money did those Hollywood stars make from their so-called charitable actions? And if there has ever been or will ever be a truly selfless act performed on this planet?

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Faerie
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2010, 08:12:46 AM »

IMO, there is no such thing as a selfless act, we only act if there is something in it for ourselves, even if that something is only a "feel good" emotion, its human nature.

As for donating to charity - any charity - is probably a waste of money, once again we humans are by nature greedy bastards and faced with money coming in from nowhere creates the prospect of corruption.

Generally, we're not a very "nice" specie.

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Jane of the Jungle
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2010, 09:34:49 AM »

How much money did those Hollywood stars make from their so-called charitable actions?


Even good publicity will do for some/most of them……..marketing strategy!  Wink
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2010, 14:00:15 PM »

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Even good publicity will do for some/most of them……..

Exactly. They don't just write a cheque and call it a day do they? No they have to tell the world, have press conferences, get some TV face-time, etc.

IMHO very few acts a human performs is selfless. Even on the level of just feeling better about yourself having done something charitable, makes not entirely a selfless act.
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Lilli
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Lelani Stolp
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2010, 15:53:27 PM »

Quote
IMHO very few acts a human performs is selfless. Even on the level of just feeling better about yourself having done something charitable, makes not entirely a selfless act.
You say 'very few acts...' can anybody think of any? I am beginning to think that, as a race, we kinda suck... how depressing - here I was always thinking I was such a nice person...  Undecided
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Irreverend
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2010, 18:36:02 PM »

You say 'very few acts...' can anybody think of any?
It's a pointless argument. Everytime someone says that they're being completely altruistic, someone else can make a case for why they're not. And who's to say who's right?
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StevoMuso
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2010, 01:54:18 AM »

My view is that a sound economy is built on value for value - nothing for free. This makes altruism bad for the economy.

On the other hand I think true acts of kindness are given freely by those who have compassion for someone who is in an unavoidable situation like Haiti. I think some humans can be extremely generous and empathic at times - it's only religion that makes us all out to be such "evil" characters in need of their false "messiahs". I've seen some stunning acts of kindness in my day - and if that person wants a pat on the back and some marketing at the same time - I don't have a problem with that.

So my question is: Why should an act of kindness necessarily be altruistic in order to make it legitimate? I haven't really thought this one through yet but it may make for interesting discussion.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2010, 12:53:15 PM »

Everytime someone says that they're being completely altruistic, someone else can make a case for why they're not. And who's to say who's right?

and
So my question is: Why should an act of kindness necessarily be altruistic in order to make it legitimate? I haven't really thought this one through yet but it may make for interesting discussion.

Exactly. So long as the donated resources benefit those in need, it really does not matter if the help came from a hypothetical altruistic source or the PR department of an international syndicate. Charity with an agenda is a thousand times more useful than no charity at all.

But officials syphoning off donated funds is of course a different matter.

Mintaka
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2010, 09:47:38 AM »

I remember musing about charity and it's "necessity" a while ago. On an evolutionary level, it is actually in our interest to be altruistic.

Many (perhaps most) people would say: "Let those who cannot fend for themselves be culled from the gene pool". Many a hard-line capitalist is opposed to "social responsibility", as they see it as supporting the weak by taking from the strong. But altruism has two sides:

If you live in a society where acts of charity are carried out, and even if you carry them out yourself. It betters your own chances of survival. For if you ever end up in a circumstance where you require help (you've been cornered by a lion and need your tribe to help you out).... the altruism of your mates significantly raises your chances of survival. Hence the altruistic tribe gets to out-breed their non-altruistic counterparts. I would postulate most humans need this kind of help at some stage of their lives, maybe in a less dire situation, but the mechanism is still at work.
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StevoMuso
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2010, 10:36:48 AM »

Which will ultimately mean that, in the final analysis, if altruism benefits our species, then it's not really altruism.

I just get annoyed by those friggen knitting-club busy-body people who give unsolicited aid to random groups of others who they have defined as "needy" and in need of their self-righteous oh-I-feel-so-good-about-myself help. Phew - nice vent hehe. That seems like a far cry from being rescued from a lion.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2010, 10:50:14 AM »

Reciprocal altruism is a concept … which explains the evolution of cooperation as instances of mutually altruistic acts. The concept is close to the one of Tit for Tat known in game theory.



Stephens [1996] shows a set of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions “… for an instance of reciprocal altruism:

  • the behaviour must reduce a donor’s fitness relative to a selfish alternative;
  • the fitness of the recipient must be elevated relative to non-recipients;
  • the performance of the behaviour must not depend on the receipt of an immediate benefit;
  • conditions 1, 2, and 3 must apply to both individuals engaging in reciprocal helping.”

There are two additional conditions necessary “…for reciprocal altruism to evolve:
  • A mechanism for detecting ‘cheaters’ must exist.
  • A large (indefinite) number of opportunities to exchange aid must exist.”
See also Biological Altruism at the SEP.

'Luthon64
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Faerie
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2010, 13:01:35 PM »

Quote
IMHO very few acts a human performs is selfless. Even on the level of just feeling better about yourself having done something charitable, makes not entirely a selfless act.
You say 'very few acts...' can anybody think of any? I am beginning to think that, as a race, we kinda suck... how depressing - here I was always thinking I was such a nice person...  Undecided
All I can think of is an act that a parent would do for their child. Probably the ONLY instance that something would be done selflessly.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2010, 13:30:09 PM »

Quote from: StevoMuso
I just get annoyed by those friggen knitting-club busy-body people who give unsolicited aid to random groups of others who they have defined as "needy" and in need of their self-righteous oh-I-feel-so-good-about-myself help

You get some strange forms of this: Some aviation people I know are quite involved in the "Young Eagles" program. What they essentially do, is take children from needy areas and take them out in their own airplanes, at their own expense, for a flip or so. Cool idea? Wellll.... many middle-class children are avid aviation enthusiasts, and never get to take to the air because it's just too costly, they also aren't deemed "needy" enough for these kinds of programs. Whereas random kids from a disadvantaged community may or may not have an interest, or the passion to take on aviation as a career. I often feel programs like this focus on the wrong people. IF you have an enthusiast who cannot take part, then those are the people you should focus on. Not just the very poor. However, at the end of the day, how much are you really doing? Maybe put a smile on someones face for a day before he heads back to a destitute existence. If you've inspired someone to aviation you still haven't removed their barriers to entry. In fact, you've just shown them a promised land they can never reach.

I would much prefer they took that money and energy, and route it into giving an enthusiast without the means, a means to a pilot's license. Is it just me?

Of course, even at that level, the altruism is of dubious value. That same money could go toward feeding and clothing many people... can one form of charity take precedence over another? Or is the act of charity valuable regardless of who it is directed at? My personal opinion: As long as you can make a defined difference to another person, it is valid.

(I'm an aspiring pilot who has a very hard time finding the cash to complete his PPL, and may never have the funds to persue my dreams, and yet I'm a "better off" member of society.)
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Faerie
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2010, 14:00:13 PM »

I'm a volunteer at various charities, but the only one that in my opinion delivers any type of value is one for abused mother's and their children in Kempton.  Its kept rather low key for the following reasons:

The mother's are usually identified by a social worker contacted by the police services, usually its a woman that pitches up at the police station with her children in tow asking for help.  The social worker will assess her willingness and desperation to leave and the risk of whether she's likely to return to her circumstances or not.  Should she prove to be a serious candidate, she is taken to a halfway house where she has a week or so of counselling and then her options are laid before her.

At this halfway home, the following aid will be given to her:

- 18 months of free accommodation broken up as follows:
if she is jobless, her skills set are assessed and if she's in need of a course (e.g. computer skills), this will be provided, if she fails, she must leave the home. - These courses are provided free of charge by various institutions (smaller one's such as acadamy of learning etc) - this takes place within the first three months
- During the following period, she will be assisted by a variety of Temp job organisations with Temping jobs, once again, if they get fired, they are to leave the home.
- They get groomed and various life skills courses are presented to them in the evenings and during weekends in an attempt to uplift them.
- Their behaviour must align to the rules of the home and any drugs and alcohol will result in them leaving.
- Childrens' schooling are arranged and a free creche service are ran at the home
- They progress at the rate the mother sets, from a communal home, to a small studio flat for which she pays a minimal rent, to further (better) accommodation.
- Once they finish this program, they are sent off with one of each of the very basic commodoties that one would need to start up a home - knives/forks/plates/bedding. They leave though, with the ability to do something for themselves and the knowledge that they CAN.

Its all about empowerment, I've seen other volunteers there that went through this program 10 odd years ago that now have corporate careers and their own homes.

I happily spend my money and time there, its more worthy than giving to some of the xtian charities with their soup kitchens and "poor" people standing with their little wooden bowls waiting for handouts.....

I have to add, its ran by a confirmed and very vocal atheist, I've seen him chase off a Catholic priest who wanted to come comfort some of the ladies - his words was - they dont need comfort or sympathy, they need logic and skills, and you can provide neither.  Grin
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Lilli
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Lelani Stolp
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2010, 14:17:37 PM »

I am involved in volunteer work as well, and I have to agree with you that the only way to help a person is to help them to help themselves. A soup kitchen is no good - because there is inevitably too much 'return business' I think humans are essentially too lazy for many charity activities to have any effect... if someone else was going to feed me every day for the rest of my life, I would never have learnt how to make toast, or worked to earn the money to buy the toaster. Why would I bother? Survival is the first motivator. Then comfort, to a certain degree. But I certainly do not see the point in 'praying for people' if that time could be spent teaching them how to make the best of their current and/or future possible circumstances.
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