August 19, 2002

Altruism & Authenticity
In order to protect identities, heretofore a close relative will be "Friend A" and my intelligent friend (hopefully that's not narrowing it down too much) will be "Friend B". Friend B is a Gen-X'r and values, like many of his generation, authenticity uber alles. He also questions whether there is such a thing as altruism in the truest sense. He says that good acts are motivated either by:

a) the high you get from helping someone (aka 'the joy of giving') - OR -
b) to avoid hell or to lay up greater treasure in heaven

So I'll have to ask him what, if possible, an "authentic" altruistic act is (surely the Cross, but I'm not sure he really believes it). Friend A, by the way, volunteers for "Meals on Wheels" and has done other charity work and is completely at loss at the concept of the "joy of giving", finding none there.

I guess I am most interested in how to reach out to the Gen-X'r. I'm thinking altruism, if in its proper context, should be a response to God. A recognition of the familial relationship we have with everybody and a desire to please Him rather than to avoid punishment. That in pleasing Him you should get a psychological 'pay-off' shouldn't make the charitable act 'unauthentic'.

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