Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Urge to Sacrifice?

Given the proper moral context I have no fondness nor grievance towards charity as a concept -- except when I'm an unnecessary and most unwilling recipient of it.

As my other posts have indicated, for the time being I am unemployed and am dependent on somebody for shelter and internet access, with my grocery needs primarily satisfied by myself (the person I live with is in disagreement with my nutritional standards, so I rely on my own savings so that I may exist independently in that area). Right now all my necessities are being taken care of and I am fine and in good health. I may be frustrated in that I may not be able to satisfy all my economic wants, but it's a reality I must deal with for now and can cope with.

Absurdly enough, however, there's a person in my life who, despite being aware of the fact that my necessities are taken care of, nonetheless views me as a perpetual object of charity. He has offered me money on many occasions, and I have politely declined him, but he has persisted (and continues to persist) to the point that he has bypassed the threshold of politeness and I fully express anger at him. We have an agreement that if I were to need anything I would ask him for assistance and that he would not be allowed to offer me assistance until that event, but I fear he will soon attempt to subvert that agreement.

Simply put, whenever the matter of my spending money comes up he offers to subsidize whatever it is I plan on purchasing, and he has in at least one instance commanded that I take his money. I am not frivolous with my money: My spending habits include groceries, health supplements (fish oil, vitamin D [which I'll stop soon in place of tanning], and a multivitamin [to assist with a magnesium deficiency and to cover general bases]), bills, gas, and limited luxuries such as almond butter (very cheap at Wal-mart) and dark chocolate. The next wasteful luxuries I plan on spending my money on are some movies that will open in May and June, and even at that seeing both of them combined will probably cost me less than ten dollars (I forgo the movie snacks). I am not irresponsible with my money, and with my savings I am optimistic that I will be able to sustain myself until I do find employment.

None of this deters the person from constantly offering me charity. I try to avoid taking charity from him since not only am I able to sustain myself but I also do not find the person to be of personal value to me, so it would, I think, be immoral for me to accept help from him except under certain circumstances. I also think that accepting unnecessary charity would harm my sense of self-dependence and train myself to habitually look towards other people for my livelihood.

Throughout my purchases he exclaims that he "feels bad" to see me spending my money so, as if somehow I was pained and resentful to be carrying my own weight. Even assuring him that I feel no disdain towards such responsibility, that I actually enjoy it and prefer it to the alternative of financial dependence, he still "feels bad." I believe I have told him that maintaining such emotions is irrational, but still he refuses to readjust his ideas.

What I don't understand is why he feels as if he needs to give me charity. When I decline his offerings he is obviously pained that I have done so, and such discontent has grown over time, with him becoming more and more persistent and upset with each declined offering.

More observations need to be made, but I have a hypothesis: His offerings are a result of his endorsement and subconscious integration of the morality of altruism. Altruism states that the moral good lies in sacrificing one's values for other men, which makes morality completely dependent on a social context. Under this theory it is only possible to be moral when other men are around and are willing to accept sacrifices. When the available men aren't willing to accept sacrifices, however, then not only has one's offering been declined, but one has also been prevented from performing what is considered to be a moral action. When I reject that person's offerings he is not pained at my suffering, since I'm not suffering, he's pained that he has been prevented from doing his "duty." As I reject his offerings over time he comes to start viewing himself more and more as a person who has moral failings, and his persistence increases as a result of his increasing guilt.

I am not certain as to whether this theory is the case, but I am certain that he's an altruist. Unluckily for him, I will continue to decline his offers in the near future (except in extraordinary circumstances) since I'm a selfish egoist, not an unselfish altruist. I do not demand nor practice sacrifice.

1 comment:

  1. "What I don't understand is why he feels as if he needs to give me charity. When I decline his offerings he is obviously pained that I have done so, and such discontent has grown over time, with him becoming more and more persistent and upset with each declined offering."

    Just a guess, but it sounds like he does not like what it implies: pride.

    Maybe when it comes to him, he does accept whatever anyone is willing to give (without earning it) and even sucks up to people to get it which means that your position would upset him on principle - because of what it implies about him.
    This is the only explanation I can think of to explain such a degree of pain and despair as a reaction to your refusal.


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