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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Does Altruism exist?

Having double majored in the equally unmarketable English and Sociology I at least became well versed(pun intended) in writing and debate.  Today I remembered a debate quite vividly.  The class was Social Theory or Modes of Social Interaction or whatever.  A few things...  it is hard to believe I am still paying for this education 15 years after I graduated.  Second, there are times I would like nothing more than sitting in a lecture hall discussing Positivism, or Game Theory, or any of the wonderful classes I took.

Hell I had a 3 credit seminar on the films of Martin Scorsese!!  Just me and his films for 3 months.  Amazing.

But I digress.  Today, last minute shopping at my local CVS, I came upon a bank envelope full of cash.  No name was attached.  No receipt indicating it belonged to anyone.  It was fat, but the biggest bill in it was a $50.  Probably had about $500 in it.

That's some serious scratch no matter how you look at it.  And living in Morris County NJ the person that left it behind more than likely would not miss it more than I would welcome it.

It took about 5 seconds to size up the situation and hand the envelope to the aged pharmacist telling him "I found this at your register sir, can you hold it because I am sure someone will come looking."

How am I sure?  Whatever.  It was the right thing to do.  And I felt good doing it.

Which brings me to the title of this humble piece.

If I handed the money back and felt GOOD doing it does that constitute a selfless act?  If the act creates any positive feelings it can, and my Sociology prof argued MUST be defined as selfish.

By his definition there are no selfless acts.  We act to make ourselves feel better...  to look better in society.

Imagine what he would suggest about writing about it???!!!  Clearly this is the biggest act of selfishness. Shouldn't I just shut up about it and move along?  Nothing to see here folks.  It is what you all would have done too right??  Why even bring it up???

Another teaching moment I thought as I picked up my daughter from school.  She was intrigued by her father's tales of college and wondered aloud whether the owner would somehow get his or her money.  And if so do you think he or she would send a gift basket??

Perhaps the good feeling that spilled over from last night's dazzling performance of "A Christmas Carol" made the act a no brainer.  Brief side note:  Shakespeare Theatre's re-telling in Madison, NJ was so, so good!!!  If you are local and have 2 hours...  http://www.shakespearenj.org/.

Tis the season, right?

If this is the feeling of selfishness so be it.

Anyway, the karma has to work both ways, right???

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