Is there such a thing as a truly selfless deed?

I remember the episode of Friends where Phoebe and Joey are trying to find the ultimate selfless good deed and how Phoebe learns that there’s no such thing because in doing a good deed one has a sense of pleasure or pride from having done it (something based on Immanuel Kant and true altruism, apparently).

This is true. For all of the good deeds that we have done so far we have experienced different emotions, enjoyment often being one of them. Our enjoyment is therefore juxtaposed with our purpose: to do things to make other people have a happy moment. I guess that’s why we’ve chosen to do keep the project as anonymous as possible. There are one or two people who may have worked out who we are but when it’s a risk that others will work it out (i.e. like the flowers for a relative or the Australia parcel) then we have left out the lovejoinme card and information and have separated the deed from the project name. The cards are there to inspire others to join in too with “pass on the kindness” and “Love. Join Me! ” on the reverse, as her altruism inspired us and she passed her kindness onto us.  The idea is that others join in too (let us know if you have!).

Given that this project is all about someone else and someone else’s kindness and is as much of a gift to that person (or that person’s memory), there will come a time soon where we will publicise what we have done and what we have learned through the process. Here’s where the altruism meets its shaky contender: pride. Should we be proud of our RAKs? We are certainly proud of her, the reason behind the project. So yes, maybe we should be proud of it but the pride doesn’t always sit comfortably. We are not doing this for us, for us to feel good. We are doing it because we want to help people and make others feel good. It’s not about saying “wow! Look what we did!”, it’s about saying “wow! Look what she did, look what she inspired”.

Look how her kindness is carrying on in selfless deeds in her honour and in her name: Love Join Me.  She did all this, not us.

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