Monday, April 15, 2013

Phoebe's Dilemma

Like many people, I just loved the TV show “Friends”.  I watched each week on Thursday night, when there was such a thing as “Must See TV”, and I have watched the reruns from time to time in syndication since.  I even went to a taping of one episode (it was the episode where Monica and Chandler were getting a photo for their engagement announcement).  There is one particular episode that I’m always reminded of whenever the topic of selfless deeds comes up in conversation.  I’ve included it here:
So the question is, is there truly a selfless act?  Selfless is defined as being concerned with the wishes and needs of others rather than with one’s own.  So yes, there are selfless acts so long as one is primarily concerned for the needs of others without seeking one’s own needs or wishes first, which to me implies that if we end up deriving pleasure or happiness from the result of meeting another’s needs that’s okay. 
Perhaps a better question is:  Does it really matter if an act is selfless or not?  Notwithstanding those situations where a person in the position to help takes advantage of the person in need, and vice versa, what I’m asking is this:  If I put myself in the shoes of the person who needs help, and then receives it from someone else, in the moment, do I really care if they’re doing it for a selfless or selfish reason?  Probably not.  If I put myself in the shoes of the person in the position to help, before I carry out the act should I pause and ask myself if I’m doing the act for selfless or selfish reasons?  And then if I discover I do have a selfish agenda, shall I then not help out?  Probably not.  If I put myself in the shoes of people indirectly involved with the situation, what good does it do to judge the person who is helping out the person in need?  Probably not much. 
So here’s an interesting question: When I see a person on the street asking for a handout of money, do I give?  There are a myriad of reasons not to, and I have always wondered if it was in the best interest of the person to give them money or not, but for now, after much thought, I’ve come to a decision for myself.  If I have the means at the moment, I will give.  It’s not up to me to figure out by the appearance of the person if they’re truly in need or not.  I will give, selfless act or not.  The way I see it, I’m blessed and I’m grateful for what I have, I want to live accordingly.  I have a feeling “Phoebe” might agree.
I welcome your thoughts, leave a comment if you choose to share.

-Tessa L. Charles

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