In a past post on this blog while discussing the construct of a “nice guy” had written that I felt there was no such thing as a selfless act. That all acts, good or bad, are transactional in some fashion. That no one does anything “just because”.
Some people felt bad for me when reading that and sent me some messages stating that’s it’s sad that my life has turned out this way. That I simply didn’t know any selfless people. Or that I was a pessimist. And that’s fine. I’m actually excited that people felt strongly enough about the subject to write me and post responses on the original article.
To me, however, a pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist.
Allow me to explain. If there is such a thing as a selfless act, it must also be an accidental one. Any action, good or evil, that has intentions also must have goals. For example, donating money to needy kids overseas may seem selfless but the people that do it generally only do so because it makes them feel good. If it didn’t make them feel good or they didn’t feel it was the right thing to do, they wouldn’t do it. Even if it is for only a small sense of self satisfaction, all we do is to receive.
“But Doc, does that then mean all actions are selfish?”
I don’t think so. I define selfish behaviour as something one does with no regard to others around them.
“What about good deeds? If no act is selfless does this not also mean all good acts, due to them having an agenda, lose their good nature?”
Not at all! Everyone has a choice of picking weather or not to “donate that money to those needy kids” as it were. What matters is when we choose to do things that help and heal others. Regardless of the payoff we get.