Selfish Giving

A couple weeks back, someone on Facebook sent me a notice that it was national philanthropy day, expecting, I assume, that I do not give to others.  Oh, but she is wrong.  I give to people, but I do so in a very selfish manner.

Case 1: 
My cousin, unfortunately, has gone through a really tough time the past few years after a fire broke out in her house just before Christmas.  She and her husband were not hurt and were insured.  The insurance company told her to replace what she lost and that they would repay her.  Several years later, the ins. company still has not paid them back.  While this is now in court, they are hurting financially.  Well, guess what... she is now pregnant.  Now my cousin is one of my favorite people in the world.  She is absolutely wonderful - friendly, caring, considerate, rational, productive.  I always have a good time talking with her.  So what have I done?  I've donated much of our baby stuff to her.  Stroller, baby seats, baby toys, bottle warmer, etc.  Anything we could strap to the roof of our car when we drove down to visit them last Thanksgiving.  I didn't do this for any selfless reasons.  I did this because I want to see her and her family do well in life - because that will bring me joy!  The only moral obligation I have to do this is that I value my friendship with her.

Case 2:
When we first moved to Michigan, I emailed a young man just starting his PhD at Univ. of Michigan to ask him about the OAC.  As a PhD student living far from his family, we realized that he probably doesn't get many home cooked meals.  So we regularly have him over to our house for dinner.  That's right, we have fed a poor college student many, many times and not asked for anything in return (nor will we).  I might have said we asked for his friendship in return, but even that is not something we ask for - he freely gives it.  Why do we do this?  Because we love talking with him.  Alex is an incredible guy - extremely bright, honest, hard working, independent, passionate, and happy.  He shares a bunch of similar interests with my wife and me - SciFi, physics, camping, Objectivism, PhD programs, good food, good beer, a distaste for tyranny, etc.  He likes playing with our kids and our dog.  We couldn't have asked for a better friend.  So, yes, we give him our beer and cook him meals and we are happier because of it.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I encourage everyone to give to those people they love.  Do it until you are fully happy, but no more.


  1. When I was a young man, an Objectivist couple pampered me a bit and the lady would kid me this was their way of making an investment that would pay future dividends.

    Merry X'Mas to you!

  2. Thanks Realist. Merry Christmas back at you.