I believe that the message (accurate, too) of every great faith of the world, and especially of Judeo-Christianity, is not JUST that you should be “good” and make “sacrifices for your fellow man” and “be altruistic” out of some FEAR of God’s wrath, or even because “good” is “better”—I believe that these faiths, again accurately, say also that being good is ACTUALLY BETTER FOR YOU, too. That the very act of giving, caring, sharing, and helping creates POSITIVE effects in YOUR OWN life, your own health, your own wealth. Now I know that you NTY-vets are hearing that old saw about “The way to get what YOU want is to help others get what they want” coming on, but Ziz Ziglar didn’t invent it, and NTY co-opts lots of truths for its own lies’ sake.
But again, it isn’t just that doing good helps the person you’re helping, it is that the very act of doing it benefits, enobles, and enlightens YOU, and this brings us to a classic philosophical issue–the difference between intent and behavior.
There’s a pretty great local talk show guy here in L.A. named Dennis Prager who takes the issues of the day and puts them in an ethical and moral and religious context rather than merely a political one as most do. HE says that the measure of someone’s goodness is much more about their behavior than their intent or ideology. In other words, he’d rather have an avowed Nazi whose actions actually save lives or cure the sick or help people than an avowed Christian who murders, harms, or hurts. His point, relevant to our discussion of NTY “leaders” who claim to be doing the evil they do “for your own good” is that the bottom line is the behavior, not the nice words and self-justifying speeches.
So, I would suggest, for example, that whether or not it cost or profited Ruth to begin and sustain her righteous crusade against the crooks of NTY, it was the ongoing BEHAVIOR of doing so that mattered and still matters, and enobles her and actually benefits her in ways that mere money can never measure. On the other hand, if she had carried on sustaining her employers while KNOWING of their evil and somehow justifying it on the grounds that it was paying her bills or supporting her family, she’d be a horrible hypocrite, and not the Ruth we know, and it would corrupt her soul in ways again that money cannot measure.
So, my thesis is this: You are what you DO, not just what you say, and the results of altruism and sacrifice are NOT just about the receptor of your actions–they are MORE about what positive energy they give YOU, so they are, in an interesting and loving way, “greedy” and “self-serving” while they serve the person you help and the community of man at large.