Third Party & Independents Archives

So why do you help others?

While participating in job interviews lately I’ve been asked questions like “Give an example of a time when you helped a co-worker, be specific as to the time, place and result of this interaction.” Then the follow-up question would be along the lines of “What did you learn from this interaction?”

Gee, I dunno, I help people so that I have specific examples of my moral character to use in job interviews. Plus, it makes me feel good.
"You, sir, should be commended for your good deeds; here's a medal! Your mother will be proud."

You know...I was raised to help others, to care about my fellow man, to be courteous and respectful, to treat others as I want to be treated. Why? Because it's the right thing to do, the right way to be...not so that you have notches on your "belt of good deeds."

I understand why questions such as those are asked, but the need to ask such questions illustrates that our society now resides more and more in the Land of Me instead of the Land of We. You should see the looks on the faces of interviewers when you steadfastly proclaim you can't remember a specific example because those acts are a daily part of who you are; that, therefore, you don't remember specific examples because there wasn't an ulterior motive in doing them. "Well, what did you learn from these interactions?" Again, dumbfounded looks when you reply "Nothing." I guess I could have said "I learned at 45 years of age that people like it when you help them."

These types of questions are nothing compared to the psychological tests that nearly every potential employer subjects you to these days, which I won't go into; but it begs the question: Are we such a morally corrupt nation that these tests are necessary? Have we lost the ability to size a person up, determine their work ethic, intangibles and integrity by sitting down and talking with them?

Just in case you aren't already convinced I'm a bleeding heart, naive, soft, socialist liberal, I'll include a piece I wrote a couple of months ago called "On Courtesy, Kindness & Respect."

What is to blame for a society seemingly slipping rapidly toward total crassness...where being punked is entertainment, where the busiest websites are those that show people fighting, where somebody's need is always seen as brought on themselves and never your duty to help (unless it's your need), where kindess is a sign of weakness, where entertainment is videos in which women degrade themselves or it's peaking into the lives of others, where someone met is analyzed for their weaknesses to exploit versus their strength of character? Whatever happened to smiling at strangers instead of glaring at them to make sure they understand you're not to be messed with? To those of you who try to be kind to everyone, you know what I'm talking about. How many times a day when you're walking down a sidewalk or an aisle in the grocery store do you make way for someone who makes no effort to do the same for you? How often do you get a wave of thanks for letting someone merge in front of you in traffic? I'm not talking about the phoney yes, sir and yes, ma'am of the over-aggressive service industry. You know when someone is genuinely kind and respectful, especially in this day in age when it's become so rare. Do we blame a society that's sole measure of success is the accumulation of wealth or is it that we no longer look inward to resolve problems but look outward to blame instead? There have always been mean kids at school but it seems more and more every day meanness is the rule instead of the exception. Frankly, it's a parenting issue; and therefore, we can turn this around. We as parents and adults need to make sure our children understand what we really value. We value a society where people care about one another, where others walking on the sidewalk are potential friends, not the obstacles of an overly self-absorbed life; that we value a society in which people respect one another, rather than degrade or disrespect others for our amusement. We need to ensure that kindess is repaid with kindness, a genuine thank-you. Every person you interact with is a human being with real feelings. Doesn't it appear that everyone acts as though they're playing a video game in which they're the only human being in it? So before we've slipped beyond any hope of return into a total instant gratification, self-absorbed society, start turning it around with an act of kindess. Help a friend, be courteous to a stranger and respect everyone. Better yet, go out of your way to help someone and see how great it makes you feel. The true measure of a rich society is not the number of millionaires, it is the happiness and wellbeing of the whole.

So why do you help others, or do you?

Posted by Zeb Pike at September 28, 2006 10:25 AM
Comments
Comment #184707

Zeb:

I imagine that someone answering interview questions as you did might have a difficult time getting hired. I try to understand the intent of the question and supply the answer to that.

I help others for a number of reasons. For starters, I have the ability to help people, so I use that ability. We all have that, even if helping is just listening, or giving a ride or doing something menial.

I’ll admit a selfish reason: I sometimes help because it makes ME feel good about myself. Often you hear people say that they gain more than they give when they help. It’s often true, though the gains are rarely tangible.

I help also because I enjoy the team dynamic of things. Society works better when people work together. Think of the Amish community where a barn gets raised. The individual couldn’t do it by him/herself, but with the community involvement, all the farmers can raise their barns. By giving a piece of yourself willingly, the entire community gains.

Helping others is a wonderful thing. There are many examples of this in our everyday society, and it should be a normal part of our day and life. But that doesn’t mean we have to overlook it or treat it with blindness. We know when we help and we know when we’ve been helped.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 28, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #184711

Have we lost the ability to size a person up, determine their work ethic, intangibles and integrity by sitting down and talking with them?

That answer is “yes”. The reason is anyone can smile, look someone in the eye, and put on a show for an hour interview. When you ask specifics the “show” gets a bit harder and accordingly much easier to see through. I like the personality-focused comments because I think we have too many instances today where someone might handle the main thrust of their work but they’re such a jerk people hate coming to work (and even if just 1 out of 5 are “personality-challenged”.)

The EQ (emotional quotient) is just as important as the IQ in today’s work environment.

Posted by: Ken Strong at September 28, 2006 11:18 AM
Comment #184718

I’m actually answering the questions honestly. I could easily make up an example and come across genuine. I honestly have a hard time coming up with examples as specific as requested.

What seems to me most important in the minds of today’s employers is whether you already know how to do the job, not whether in a very short time you’d do it better than someone who already knows how.

Joe, I agree with all that you say; it’s just that to me it’s somewhat disingenuous to be able to rattle off a list of examples of good deeds.

But mostly this process for some reason made me feel the need to rant about courtesy and respect as an integral part of who we ought to be. Everyone seems quite capable of saying the right things and coming up with examples while my daily experience is that it’s seldom practiced.

Posted by: Zebster at September 28, 2006 11:37 AM
Comment #184719

Your personality should have absolutely nothing to do with getting a job. Seeing that you need money to survice in America when you start to pick and choose as to who is “good” enough to get a job it is in my mind very dangerous and also very wrong. If you are qualified for the job you should get it regardless if you are nice or not. Also, why should I care if someone hates me and doesn’t want to come in to work because of me? F*ck them. That’s there problem and they have the f*cked up “emotional quotient” not me. Business are starting to act rediculous now. It needs to stop.

Posted by: dee at September 28, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #184721

Also, we help others because it is the right thing to do and because everyone on this planet is connected because of Evolution. How can you just sit there and watch your brother/sister struggle to survive? I don’t have extra money but I still give some to homeless people. It makes me feel good too when I help others and I don’t think that feeling is selfish as someone stated up there. Its an oxymoron, your not selfish if you get enjoyment out of helping out others. Your selfish if and when you don’t help or give to others. America needs to become for of a “social democracy.”

Posted by: dee at September 28, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #184724

I’ve always been observant of people and have come to the conclusion that not only is helping others the right thing to do, it’s necessary for true happiness.
I see a lot of folks during the course of a day. The ones I see helping helping others are generally happier and easier going than the ones that are self absorbed and won’t even try to help anyone. The folks that don’t help others are generally hard to get along with, and tend to be grouchy and demanding.
I was never verbally told I should help others. I was taught to help others by example. Momma and Daddy would always help someone without any thought of receiving anything for it. In fact they would turn down any offer of compensation.
We lived on a small farm and to make ends meet Daddy had to work off the farm. Even then with a growing family and a new baby every couple of years things got tight. But Momma would feed anyone that came to her door hungry. Daddy would always stop to help a stranded motorist any way he could, even if he had to reach into his own pocket to help. Both gave their time to help those that couldn’t do for themselves.
Most folks today seem take kindness like that for weakness to be exploted. The main reason for this as I see it because they’ve never been taught to be kind. They’ve been taught that the only person that counts is them. Maybe they haven’t been taught that way intentionally, but they’ve been taught that way through the lack of displine and/or example.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 28, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #184728

dee
Your comment shows the biggest problem with society today. I sure hope you don’t really feel that way.
Why would I want to hire someone I know is going to make everyone unhappy? Sure I want the best qualified person for the job. But the ability to get along with others, and willingness to help them is part of the qualifications.
Besides someone with a F#*@ everyone attitude generally doesn’t keep a job long because their work is as bad as their attitude.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 28, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #184731

Zeb:

Agreed. Didn’t mean that you should list off all your good deeds, but lets not be falsely humble about it. Sounds like you’ve got a great head on your shoulders, and we should all work to help others. It should come natural, as it seems to for you.

Dee:

Personality comes into play in many cases. Doctors with good bedside manner have a better rate of healing patients than technically proficient doctors who are jerks. Try being a salesperson and a jerk—-doesn;t mix too well. If you want to get ahead, you need to work well within a team. Look at Terrell Owens who is physically gifted but hurt his former team badly with his attitude.

Ron:

I once crashed a car in Canada, was young and without money. The people at the hotel put me up, the restaurant fed me and the cabbie drove me to the hospital and elsewhere. They all did this out of the goodness of their hearts. They all got paid back once I returned home, but they didn’t know if they would get paid or not when they helped me.

I’ve never forgotten their kindness, and while I can’t repay them individually, I can enter the “what comes around goes around” continuum by helping others, who in turn help others who in turn…..

Bible says that it’s better to give than recieve, and it is correct in that, as you pointed out. It brings us happiness as a reward.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 28, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #184735

I was never verbally told I should help others. I was taught to help others by example. Momma and Daddy would always help someone without any thought of receiving anything for it. In fact they would turn down any offer of compensation.

Posted by: 新公司法 at September 28, 2006 12:25 PM
Comment #184737

As with religion, how people help others, is nobody elses business.
We would be a lot better country if everyone quit worrying so much about how other people “help others” and if we quit forcing people to accept our views and “help others” as we want them too.

Tampling individual rights to “feel good” about yourself is wrong.

Posted by: kctim at September 28, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #184738

ron - all i’m saying is why is it my problem if someone doesn’t like me? It isn’t. Don’t expect me to change to suit everyone’s needs around me because its not going to happen. The bigger problem in today’s society is how we are trying to make everyone the same. I need diversity, I need differences, I need arguments. I’m not sure what you don’t agree with in what I wrote but yes its how I feel. The reality is you need a job to survive and I don’t like you or anyone else playing with my life because you think I have a shitty attitude. What would you say to someone who has been at a job longer, works hard, is good at his or her job, doesn’t complain, but might be a little quiet so they don’t know everybody. This person applies for a promotion that he or she is definately qualified for but the job is given to a fellow coworkers relative who has been on the job for a shorter period of time, the same education, and less experienced. what do you tell that person who just got f*cked out of more money, (a better life), because they lost out to someones relative who didn’t deserve the job… would you tell them to get along with everybody or do you think they might have a little animosity and not want to help out everyone in this case because he or she feels like they are not being treated fairly? Thinking someone with a bad attitude can somehow not produce quality work is an absolute urban myth also. There is no truth to that statement at all.

Posted by: dee at September 28, 2006 12:33 PM
Comment #184739

jobod
Your right, what goes around comes around. Help others and most will help others down the line.
The Bible does say it’s better to give than to receive. But I believe that while your giving your receiving. Maybe it’s not tangible, but how many times have you helped someone and just plain felt better than you did before?


Posted by: Ron Brown at September 28, 2006 12:40 PM
Comment #184741

joe - I’m not the nicest person to everyone, I have a good bullshit meter and refuse to be nice to people who only care about themselves. One hand washes the other. Because I know my personality wouldn’t make good for a salesperson I don’t apply for any sales jobs. I realize that a certain personality fits certain types of jobs. With (I didn’t attempt to commit suicide) T.O. I can’t blame it all on him. When strong personalities collide neither side will want to give in. That’s what happened there but they get rid of T.O. because he didn’t fit the mold or wasn’t the ideal player or employee they had hoped for. I don’t think you should be disciplined for not acting like everyone else. I respect the fact that T.O. doesn’t do what other people tell or want him to do, he is a leader not a follower. As am I.

Posted by: dee at September 28, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #184742

I think you learn more in an interview by asking someone how they’d handle a difficult hypothetical work situation rather than the assumption that because someone can rattle off good deeds done proves they’ve done them or would do them when you’d most want them to.
I’ve stopped what I was doing in an extremely busy day to help a competitor who was struggling to pull a big stack of product into a rec’ing dept, but I don’t make a mental note of it to use later.
The warning bells go off for me when someone can do that. I’d rather be genuinely modest than falsely courteous.
I guess I have a strange way of looking at things philosophically (always knew that), but in a world that’s more selfish and rude and disrespectful, the fact that people can rattle off their good deeds strikes me as odd. I’m not the only one who thinks that?

Posted by: Zebster at September 28, 2006 12:42 PM
Comment #184746

dee
It’s not urban myth. As an employer I’ve seen it first hand. Folks with bad attitudes do inferior work for the most part. There are exception though. When I first bought the factory I inherited most of the employees already there. I had one guy that was a total grump. But his work was outstanding. He just didn’t like people and didn’t want folks bothering him. But he did manage to get along with his fellow employees enough to get the job done.
I’m not saying that you need to get along with everyone and agree with everyone all the time. But you need to be able to get along with most your fellow employees.
Unfortunately the situation you described happens more often than it should. I don’t know all the reasons why someone is pasted over for promotion. A lot of the time I’ve noticed it’s favoritism.
What would I tell that person? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else that’s never been there. But I can sure understand their disappointment though. And I would hope that their a big enough person to overcome the disappointment.
I do know as an employer though that decisions have to be made. And a lot of times you know that someone is going to be disappointed by them. And if you care about your employees it isn’t easy to have to tell someone they didn’t get the promotion they wanted and most likely deserve. And all the explaining your decision doesn’t help. And that’s the worst part.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 28, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #184751

“And I would hope that their a big enough person to overcome the disappointment.”

This is one of my biggest problems here. So I just got screwed in this hypothetical but then am supposed to be the bigger person. Come on this is a fantasy. When people are favored or don’t earn there promotion your messing with people lives. I don’t think you realize this. Your f*cking with their life here (in America money rules) and they are just supposed to say OK. Sorry I can’t agree. But I appreciate your point of view.

Posted by: dee at September 28, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #184754

Zebster

I think you learn more in an interview by asking someone how they’d handle a difficult hypothetical work situation rather than the assumption that because someone can rattle off good deeds done proves they’ve done them or would do them when you’d most want them to.

How true! The ability to handle difficult work situations is more important than if someone helps others or not. That’s why I don’t ask prospective employees if they help others or not. If they’re good at working through difficult situations they’re for the most part going to help their fellow employees get the job done.
I really don’t care if my employees are out there helping the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and cutting their elderly neighbors grass. If they are, all well and good of them. And I believe they’ll be happier for it.
Will that make them better employees. Maybe, maybe not. I haven’t done any research on it.
I don’t agree with companies that ‘encourage’ their employees to do good works outside the work place. I’ve noticed that they’re more interested in blowing their own horns about it than the fact their employees are helping others.
One very large company comes to mind. They’re always blowing their horn about how they give back to the neighborhood. While they don’t require their employees to help others, the ones that don’t seem to get pasted over for promotions.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 28, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #184764

Ron, wonder if that very large company is the very same one to most recently ask me such questions.

I do fear though that by putting the interview thing in front of what I think is the more important part of the post it’s gotten more attention. So while there have been great comments, many are not on the topic I was trying to write about. Guess that’s the writer’s mistake. LOL

Posted by: Zebster at September 28, 2006 2:26 PM
Comment #184766

Zebster:

I love what you are trying to do. You want people to treat people like people. People naturally want to help each other. It’s in their bones to cooperate with other human beings. No society can exist without people who are concerned with the common good.

Unfortunately, in U.S. competition is king. Each person is busy trying to knock the other person down in order to show how smart he is. Each person wants to be richer than the other. This is the land of the “ownership society,” where everbody is concerned with himself.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at September 28, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #184772

Zebster:

I love what you are trying to do. You want people to treat people like people. People naturally want to help each other. It’s in their bones to cooperate with other human beings. No society can exist without people who are concerned with the common good.

Unfortunately, in U.S. competition is king. Each person is busy trying to knock the other person down in order to show how smart he is. Each person wants to be richer than the other. This is the land of the “ownership society,” where everbody is concerned with himself.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at September 28, 2006 02:38 PM

——————————————-

Paul, good post. It’s difficult sometimes to parse the messages that come about. You are right regarding our competitive environment. However, I’ve found in my experience that helping is contagious and gains momentum the more you are involved. I think we are engineered to help one another. Certainly, most people I know are instinctive helpers and don’t go in for the “What’s in it for me?” routine.

Posted by: Dennis at September 28, 2006 2:57 PM
Comment #184786

The comments below are from Dee and the exact type of person I’m talking about:

Your personality should have absolutely nothing to do with getting a job. Seeing that you need money to survice in America when you start to pick and choose as to who is good enough to get a job it is in my mind very dangerous and also very wrong. If you are qualified for the job you should get it regardless if you are nice or not. Also, why should I care if someone hates me and doesn’t want to come in to work because of me? F*ck them. That’s there problem and they have the f*cked up “emotional quotient” not me. Business are starting to act rediculous now. It needs to stop.

This is exactly the kind of person I don’t want to hire. Why would I subject myself and, more importantly, my hard working employees to this kind of person? If you find an ass that can do the job surely you can find someone who doesn’t blow their top every other day or throw around F-bombs ad nauseum that can do the job. If you’re just talking about someone sitting in a fire tower in the middle of a forest I guess there’s little people skills to consider, but if the person is going to be operating around other employees and customers, people without people skills can take their resume, do a 180 degree turn, and go back to whence they came. I’d rather go with the postion unfilled for a week than to disrupt my work environment with cro-magnon behavior.

Posted by: Ken Strong at September 28, 2006 3:26 PM
Comment #184942

How much do help until you can’t help no more. The welfare system is so abused here that those on it think they deserve it no matter what. Welfare for a x amount of time is ok then it has to stop. People need to be responsible for themselves. I am a firm beliver that charity begins at home, and once my family is taken care of in the way I feel they should be, then maybe and it’s a big maybe, I can think about helping others.

Posted by: KT at September 28, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #184953

If I were a Republican, I wouldn’t help anyone, it breeds dependency. Why should we create a situation where others depend on us to die. Let them die on their own, it’s good for their character. God knows, dead people have a real lack of character these days. I was at a morgue the other day, I can attest that is true! Stop helping! Its bad for me, bad for you, bad for everyone. God helps those who help themselves to other people’s rights, property, and liberties. C’mon, do the right thing! Be sure you select your friends carefully - only those who help themselves at the public trough of taxpayer money will ever be my friends. If I were a Republican.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 28, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #184983

David:

If I were a liberal, I’d hand out buckets of cash to every poor person I saw. I wouldn’t care what they did with the money, because God knows they’ve had tough lives and they deserve the money. In fact, I’d make sure the buckets of money came from rich people who of course don’t deserve it—they probably inherited it anyway.

The poor people aren’t responsible for being poor. Who cares if they squandered their abilities or their money in Mike Tyson-like fashion. It’s not their fault—they were taken advantage of by others. How dare we hold them accountable for any bad decision they might make, when we know society forced them into those bad choices. Blame society, or blame government or blame the culture we live in, but never ever blame the individual. Oh, and by the way, lets make sure that everyone has the right to make their own decisions, but lets not hold them accountable for them.

WRiter’s Note: This post was intentionally just as stupid and one sidedly incorrect as the one before it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 28, 2006 11:39 PM
Comment #184985

David:

Now for intelligent discussion. What we need to do is give people a hand UP. We need to provide help to the poor, not just in the way of money, but more importantly in the way of teaching them a skill, helping them get a job, and showing them how to live productively in society.

We need to help them learn that through their efforts, they can succeed. It’s true that life aint fair, and that some have better opportunities than others. That’s just the way it is, and no amount of handwringing and hoping will change that. But its also true that by making good choices, by making sacrifices in the short term in favor of long-term gain, and by sheer dogged determination, people can improve their lot in life.

Consider the many Asian families in the US. In many cases, they arrived with few marketable skills, minimal if any language skills and no contacts other than their relatives. Yet in many cases, the parents sacrificed, worked endless hours, and lived in group houses so that their children would have a better life. They understood the concept of sacrificing now in order to have a better life later. And many have become successful…its the American dream.

We should all try to do our part. But we all should also look at the way that we “help”. I was approached by a panhandler downtown one day who asked me for money so he could buy food. Knowing the odds were that he might use the cash for booze etc, I bought him a sandwich instead. I helped him, if he was truly hungry, but I did not enable him if he wasn’t.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 28, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #184991

David
Sorry, God helps those that CAN’T help themselves. And those a the that need it most.
While I’m all for helping folks that need a helping hand, I believe that if they can they should be trying to help themselves.

joe
A hand up does a lot more for one’s self esteem than a handout. All handouts do are keep folks down and dependent on the one giving the handout. A hand up tells the person receiving it that someone believes in them. These folks are more likely to try to help themselves.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 29, 2006 12:08 AM
Comment #184995

“So why do you help others”

Three reasons:
1. I was brought up well, by good, kind people.
2. I have a heart.
3. I have a brain.

Because I was raised well, I learned by their example. Because I have a heart, I have empathy to feel for other people. Because I have a brain, I know that helping others is a practical and sensible thing to do. After all, I too might need help one day, so I feel it’s good to give my time or lend my help while I can, so that if or when I need help, I’ll feel much more deserving of it, rather than guilty and cranky.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 29, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #184996

Zebster
Could be. Is that company the worlds largest retailer?

dee
Any time promotions are given out someone is going to either get screwed or going to feel like they were.
If a qualified person is passed over for promotion they’re naturally not going to like it. If this happens once they should be able to suck it up and go on. If they can’t then they didn’t need the promotion in the first place.
If it happens more than once then there could be a problem. The choices the are either to find out what the problem is and try to correct it, or get another job.
It is unfortunate that there are those that for what ever reasons get preference in promotions. This can be because they’re family, or they’re promoted under affirmative action, or they just suck the boss’ ass. Under these circumstances I can see an employee that’s qualified feeling a little bitter.
However if you display the attitude at work that your displaying here I find it hard to believe that you’d even be considered for promotion. Most employers won’t promote someone with that kind of attitude.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 29, 2006 12:24 AM
Comment #185001

Dee,

Thank you again for furthering my point. You’re 2 for 2.

… and I think it’s terribly wrong that your parents beat you as a child.

Posted by: Ken Strong at September 29, 2006 12:45 AM
Comment #185006

JBOD said: “But its also true that by making good choices, by making sacrifices in the short term in favor of long-term gain, and by sheer dogged determination, people can improve their lot in life.”

JBOD, it is true for some people. I look back at my life and see how many extraordinary circumstances of luck worked in my favor to permit me to get where I fortunately am. If one of any number of lucky events had gone the other way, my life could very different and far worse.

At 16, I got caught by the Detroit police driving a stolen car with a forged temporary license. When they pulled me and my buddies over for making a left turn in a no left turn intersection at 2:30AM, the cop spotted the forged license right off. Put us in the back of the squad car and tried to make a call into Juvie. After not getting through to Juvie for about 15 minutes, he turned to me and asked if I could get the car back where it belonged and if I could guarantee him I would never, ever do this again. I agreed and they let us go.

Needless to say, my gang joy ride days ended that evening. I went on to college, into the military, and marriage, family with no police record. I was lucky because I was white. I was lucky because they couldn’t get through to Juvie and it was probably their quitting time.

With a record, I might not have been able to enlist. With a record, I certainly would never have become a counselor for federal prisoners which led to many far better jobs later.

Hard work, determination, good IQ, good learning skills, and right color of skin in the right country can all go along way to allowing one to succeed. Then again, a simple twist of fate can ruin an otherwise productive and satisfying life.

Willingness is only part of the success story. Being at the right place for the right opportunities and prepared for them also play a big role. Just as being in the wrong place at the wrong time has ruined the lives of many. The number of innocent prisoners being released each year on DNA evidence is a testament to that fact.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 29, 2006 12:58 AM
Comment #185027

Ron, “could be.” LOL

I wonder if I wrote a piece about people getting screwed at work, whether there should be welfare or not, maybe people would comment about day-to-day respect and courtesy.

Posted by: Zebster at September 29, 2006 8:22 AM
Comment #185030

David:

If one of any number of lucky events had gone the other way, my life could very different and far worse.

This is true in all our lives. Some of the events are coincidence or luck, while God has a hand in others (you might say Buddha does).
We cannot discount the events that occur. But in your situation, you got a lucky break, but then you took advantage of it. Your many years of success are not the result of having been let off for auto theft, though they were affected by it. Your success is due to the hard work and determination you put into it.

As I see it, the cop gave you an opportunity. You seized it. Far too many people today get an opportunity, only to wait idly by for the NEXT opportunity to be given to them.

Life isn’t fair, as I commented above. But rather than lamenting the unfairness, we help people rise above it. There will always be inequity; you got far more brains than most, I got better looks than most (joking about the latter, not the former). Its not as much the cards we are dealt but how we play out the hand.

The cop gave you a wild card and you turned your hand into a royal flush. The one card did not do it for you—-you provided all the rest.

By the way, my condolences to you for having grown up in Detroit. I spent what seemed like a decade in Detroit—-was really only 3 years. Was robbed at gunpoint in Highland Park on the Lodge—I’m sure you can remember what it was like. Detroit is villianized by the media as a bad place, but the media is wrong. Detroit is much worse than they could ever paint it.

Adrienne:

Good for you. Those are good reasons for helping others. In my opinion, having a good heart is more important than having a good brain. Sometimes it seems futile to help an individual, but often, if given the test of time, we can see that perhaps even a small incidental kindness can bloom. Despite our radically different political perspectives, nice to know that we can agree that helping people is a gift to them and a gift to us.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 29, 2006 8:58 AM
Comment #185114

JBOD, I agree about Detroit.
I live near Detroit, and if you ever want to see a city on the downside, and what a war zone looks like come and see Detroit. I have walked downtown Chicago at midnight, but I don’t care to walk downtown detroit at high noon unless I have to.
Detroit is a city that is looking for a handout upon handout, upon handout, there is no way to help it.

Posted by: KT at September 29, 2006 2:16 PM
Comment #185183

JBOD, you miss the point. Being white in America was a stroke of luck. Being born in America was a stroke of luck for me (BIG, HUGE!). Having a mother who taught me civility, despite my father’s tendencies toward barbarism - another stroke of luck. Having been born to a family in Detroit where my father had good union work to raise his family on - another big stroke of luck. Having been born with an IQ above average - huge stroke of luck. Having survived 5 years as an adolescent playing with suicide with friends and teachers to help me through it - huge stroke of luck. Having been born without disabilities - stroke of luck - (I fortunately didn’t eat leaded paint chips when I was teething - it was all around in the 1950’s).

Thanksgiving is not an annual holiday, - it is a way of life and viewing the world that gives one humility, empathy, and compassion even for those far less fortunate and despicable for not having been as fortunate. Buddhism and Jesus’ teachings are not that far apart when it comes to prescriptions for daily living.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 29, 2006 6:02 PM
Comment #185563

David:

We can all look at things as luck. It’s amazing how lucky I get when I work hard. It’s amazing how lucky I get when I don’t do bad things. It’s amazing how lucky I get when I meet challenges head on.

Life is not equitable. Never has been, never will be. To expect it, or to even bemoan it when you don’t get is simply falling into a hole. It was easier for me to go to college, because that was expected of me. I was able to pay for college, but much of it due to getting Social Security payments after my father died when I was young. Did I get lucky to get out of college without debt——no, I paid for it dearly.

As I stated earlier, the important issue is not the cards we are dealt. Some are dealt good hands, while others are dealt poor hands. Its how we play the cards we are given. I may not rise to the financial heights of someone borne into the Kennedy family, but I can rise nonetheless. I may not rise to the business heights that others with better family connections or family business might rise to, but I can rise nonetheless.

I do the best with what I have been given, never forgetting that God has blessed me with certain abilities. It is still up to me to make good use of those abilities. One way is to enhance them, while another is using them for the greater good of society. But sitting back bemoaning that others have been given more abilities or more opportunities will get me…..nowhere.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at October 1, 2006 2:02 PM
Comment #185567

What a great post, an amazing thread. I had avoided it; not political (read contentious) enough.

I’m surprised how much I agree with Ken Strong and Ron Brown. Attitude is huge! I run a small construction business. Nothing is worse than having to deal all day with a negative,whining person. It drags everyone down, saps their energy, and lowers productivity. Big time.

As you by now are aware ken, my speech is peppered with expletives. I am not a negative person notwithstanding. I have found that a little strategic profanity fires me up. I don’t find it a detriment to my relationship with god, either. But I realize certain people do have a problem hearing (or reading) it. Sorry.

I help wherever I am able because I OWE. Over the years, people have shown me what love really is. It is ACTION. Not talk or ideas, not a feeling. A feeling that we’re all in this life together, so if you wanna get, ya gotta give as well.

Something else I’m very aware of is that almost nobody who’s gotten very far in life has done so without help of some sort. An inheritance, a lucky employment opportunity, family and/ or friends helping when times are tough. Very few are those who have done it all by their lonesome.

Much more telling is what they DO with the help. Do they nurture it into something lasting, that grows? Do they then turn around and give to those who are in need? That is what really defines a person, in my estimation.

So maybe personality doesn’t describe that quality so much as attituce does.

There are also some who, on the face of it, don’t deserve help. Maybe they are gay, don’t speak good english, were thieves, drug adicts, wife beaters. Maybe they’re just butt ugly and dirt poor. That’s where we really need to give institutional help. A lot of those people are not gonna make good use of the help, will take the money, spend it on booze or whatever, go back and slap their wives around.

I think we should STILL help those people. To a very certain extent. If you are able to get through to just one or two of these sometimes the results can be spectacular! Each of these people has a vital and precious spark of God needing to see the light. Our willingness and ability to do this says everything about the kind of society we really are.

Posted by: Steve Miller at October 1, 2006 2:21 PM
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