Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Selfish good deeds

I seem to recall an episode of Friends where Phoebe was arguing with one of the other characters (Chandler, I think...) about whether purely good deeds exist or not.  Her point was that they do.  The other character was telling her that no matter what, deep-down, people have a selfish reason for doing what they do - even it's as simple as feeling good about their good deeds.  Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that some people do some pretty stupid stuff that they might justify as being a good deed, but there is nothing but selfishness and/or ignorance driving their actions.

Case in point, when I take my dog on a walk, I take her to a park that has a pond with ducks and geese.  Pretty much every time I go there on the weekend, I find somebody feeding the birds there.  And where do they usually do it?  Right in front of a sign that pretty clearly reads:  DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.  Seriously.  It's not like they feed them on the other side of the pond where they could legitimately say that they didn't see it.  Last time I was there, the guy was pretty much tossing the bread right in front of the sign.

Not too far away is another sign that explains WHY you shouldn't feed the wildlife.  Basically, it's not good for them.  All that white bread?  Yeah, that's not really what they'd be eating out in the wild.  Also, and I'm not sure exactly how, but apparently it helps to spread disease.  Maybe more food equals more poop and more poop equals more disease.  I don't know.

The thing is, it's not like feeding the birds is a necessary thing for anybody to do.  They have to go out of their way to bring the bread to the pond.  It's not like something bad will happen to them if they don't.  So why are they doing it?  It's because they want to see the ducks and geese eat, and they don't care if they're ultimately doing more harm than good.

Something that's kind of along this line comes up whenever there's a birthday - in particular, my birthday.  Ever try to tell people that you don't want them to sing you the happy birthday song?  They don't like to hear you say that.  Never mind that it's YOUR birthday.  Never mind that, within reason, you're expected to give the birthday person what he or she wants.  Never mind that the song is annoying and you feel like an idiot as you have to sit there and pretend to enjoy it while everybody's singing it to you.  Oh no, it's the birthday song, and you're going to listen to it even if you don't want to because they want you to be happy with something that you don't like.

Lastly, there are the people who drag their kicking and screaming kids up to Santa Claus so they can have a picture taken?  For whose benefit is this, exactly?  Certainly not the kid's.

I suppose I could go on, but you get the point.

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