Maybe Ayn Rand had a point about altruism.
Have you ever gone out of your way to help someone and find they keep asking for favors? And yet there are others who always remember to acknowledge you for your gestures, no matter how insignificant.Â Then, it sometimes seems your act of compassion had a somewhat selfish end, garnering the appreciation of another.
Of course, it’s a little different with nieces and nephews.Â They don’t always remember to send you thank you notes.Â That doesn’t seem to matter all that much, at least to me.Â There’s satisfaction in seeing (or imagining) the smile on a child’s face.
I was thinking about this today when, upon returning from my workout, I opened my (snail) mail box to discover for the umpteenth day in a pile of charitable solicitations, many from groups to which I had never given, some of whom send me regular mails.Â I begin to wonder if they spend as much money in asking for money as they do in helping the people they claim they’re helping.Â And the “gifts” they send me.Â I’ll never need to buy address labels, greeting cards or scratch pads again.
Then, I check my e-mail to read a missive from a person (for whom I have gone out of my way in the past) repeating a request for a ridiculous favor.Â Odd how this individual’s strategy differs from that of another friend for whom I have regularly (and willingly, eagerly even) gone out of my way.Â When that friend mentioned last week that she was going to be in a staged reading this Sunday, I asked if I could go, knowing it would mean a lot to her.Â Her response saying as much made me glad I had asked.
Note, the second friend didn’t request the favor, but got it.Â And why did I so readily offer to go?Â Because she’s a friend, a talented actress who works hard and deserves more success than this business has allowed her.Â And because she has acknowledged every act of kindness I have performed on her behalf.
Maybe I’m not so altruistic after all.