Friday, October 19th, 2018

Anarchist Luddite: “Why not make a habit out of helping people? You’ll feel better about yourself.”

Posted on January 25, 2016 in Perspectives
By Brian Gordon

If you’ve walked through Deering Oaks in the past month, you’ve surely seen the winter coats taped to trees and poles with a sign saying “I’m not lost, please take me if you need me.” Indeed, what a good deed some soul has done.

If you’ve cut through the park on your way to class in the recent week it looks like the kids from the local elementary school have stripped down and are skinny dipping in the pond. There’s thermal underwear, fleeces, hats, gloves all strewn around the park, all wrapped in plastic flapping in the winter wind. Where does all that plastic wind up? My bet is in a seagull or mallards stomach. It seems the kind soul only shows up for the hanging and doesn’t worry about the plastic getting cleaned up.

There is a less sexy, less Instagram-worthy way to donate warm clothes to the poor and homeless. You walk into Preble St. or their teen center, or the Oxford St. shelter, or a dozen churches around town and hand them to a staff member. They say “Great thanks a lot, we can really use these.” And then you leave feeling fuzzy having done your good deed for the year. The problem with that is it doesn’t draw attention to the act and in turn yourself.

It’s a selfless action to give with no one looking and no chance of praise, ‘thumbs up,’ or ‘likes,’ The deed need not pay dividends. However it’s been my experience and others that if you continue to do kind acts the universe will help you. Hippies and Hindus call it karma.

We all now demand instant validation from every act we do, whether it’s a picture of our breakfast shared on social media or giving away cheap clothing to less fortunate, we need other people to know we’re doing it and we value their approval.

I appreciate someone helping the poor but why not do it in a way that keeps the focus on poverty, not a picture of you smiling while giving away an old jacket to someone?

People complain that newspapers don’t report enough good news. That’s fine by me. I wouldn’t like to see an article every time an old woman gets help crossing the street. But if you don’t know that these things happen every single day then maybe that’s your cue to start doing them. True you can read the paper and think the world a horrible, scary place but once you get out in it and move around a bit you realize people are the bees knees.

Why not make a habit out of helping people? You’ll feel better about yourself and the world around you. And please keep it out of your timeline. If I read another story in the paper about people sitting in their SUV’s “paying it forward” by buying someone else’s Starbucks order I’m gonna ralph.

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