Friday, August 21, 2009

A Moral Puzzle

Alright gang, here's something fun for you Friday night: A hypothetical moral dilemma! Aren't you lucky? Alright, let's have at it:

Let's say that someone you know had the opportunity to help you a while ago by giving you $500. The amount of cash isn't that important, really. Let's just say he/she/what the fuck ever had more than enough money, and that what you needed wouldn't have been a significant blow to him/her/you get the fucking point. However, instead of helping you, he/she leaves you high and dry, and you have to do it your own goddamn self, which takes way longer and greatly inconveniences you. Now, let's say that sometime later, you find yourself in LITERALLY the exact same situation. And I mean the EXACT same situation. Only now the roles are reversed: They are now in need of help, and you now have more than enough to help them without any huge negative ramifications upon yourself.

Whoa whoa whoa child, before you fly off the handle, let's flesh this out a bit, shall we? Let's say that since they blew you off, you've been harbouring some resentment, which you haven't bothered vocalizing for numerous reasons. You feel they don't really deserve it, that they really are your friend and you actually do like them. On the other hand, you kinda feel they do deserve it, but in order to avoid conflict, you've decided to forgo actually saying anything.

Now, let's say that if you help them, you do the right thing. However, this does nothing to quell your latent hostility. If anything, helping them only further increases the resentment you feel towards them. However, if you refuse to help them, you are technically evening the score in a karmic sort of way, but let's face it: You're still doing the wrong thing. You are an asshole of epic proportion, even if logically and objectively speaking, you are leveling the playing field here.

So now this isn't a matter of "Do I help someone even if I'm not entirely certain whether or not they actually even DESERVE my help", this becomes something deeper than just a delicious mix poetic irony and cosmic justice: it becomes a matter of identity. Either way, you will lose a part of yourself. If you help them, your resentment will further consume you, and if you don't, you become a lesser person by debasing yourself to what they did. You will lose a small part of your humanity either way, albeit differing parts depending on the scenario. So the question here is, do you help them or do you walk away? Which parts of yourself are you willing to risk losing in order to save another part?

For my own personal answer, highlight the following text beneath this line:

Answer: Help them. Because despite your own personal feelings, and despite whether or not they objectively deserve anything from you at this point, you will do the right thing. Fact of the matter is, you can make a list of the many reasons why you shouldn't help them, and believe me, it'll be a looooooooooooooong list, but no matter how many reasons you come up with for why you should do the wrong thing, and no matter how logical these reasons are, the one reason for doing the right thing will always be worth more. And that reason is: Because doing the right thing is the right thing. Exactly. There is absolutely no reason behind being good, but ultimately, a lack of reason is better than any reason at all. Which kinda sucks sometimes, doesn't it?

Well, have at it. What do you do?


Robert said...

I understand the predicament and totally agree with your solution but I disagree with tour interpretation of Karma. Karma only happens anonymously and not as a revenge.
X Robert

Robert said...

PS "your" not "tour" - sorry about the typo

nathanonline said...

Definitely help. I don't harbour feelings of resentment. I have complete control over my feelings, and if I just choose not to feel resentment, I won't. Once that is eliminated, it becomes an easy choice: do right, do wrong. The choice is obvious; do the right thing.

Deistbrawler said...

Well, I guess I would be a horrible person. I say fuck em. Turn about is fair play. If they didn't help you, they shouldn't expect help in return. At least that's the way I look at it.

replica said...

I'd try for the best of both worlds - ask them to justify their former decision (that of not helping you in similar circumstances) AND being the bigger person (there is also gratification in that aspect) and giving to them.

Unless of course they reveal something during their 'justification speech' (admittedly they'll be lying under duress, but see what shakes...) that shows you that the friendship is perhaps not quite what you think it is.

There is some reason they did not give to you when you needed help. Unless they are a newbie and it's a Dylan 'Rolling Stone' moment of realization for them, well...what's behind that? What does it say about how they feel about you, truly?

That happens to me a lot - totally different ideas of who and what 'we' are to each other.

DeWayne In San Diego said...

Seriously? It would depend on my mood on a particular day. I can feel very magnanimous one day and a skinflint on another. Proof as you get older you can still be a moody asshole.

Interesting dilemma, I think what would swing it for me (in favor of helping them out) is the feeling of smug satisfaction I would have for doing what they failed to do!

I think a lot of GOOD Deeds are done for the some very selfish reasons.

meaux said...

You know what? I'm a softie, and it's only money, so I'd help. Knowing me, I'd harbour some sulky moments of resentment in my dark days, but most of the time I'd be able to suck it up.

Foster said...

I know I would help them out because it is what you think of yourself that matters. BUT maybe you should reevaluate the relationship in the process.

Mareczku said...

I have a son in college so most of my extra money goes to him and there is not a lot to spare. Maybe I would be more generous if I didn't have a mortage, a car payment and credit card debt. Oh, the joys of middle class life. Anyway, I hope that you are having a good weekend Jeremy and I am sending a big hug your way.

Love - Mark

Jeremy Feist said...

Robert: I guess Karma is more of a universe thing than it is a people thing, huh?

nathan: Yeah, but I have shite control over my emotions.

Deistbrawler: To be honest, I wish I could say the same thing.

replica: this is what is known as the "People suck" theorem.

DeWayne: Well, I guess it would sort of depend on my mood at the time.

meaux: Okay, I can appreciate the notion of sucking it up.

Foster: I think I have some reevaluating to do...

Mark: No, point is it that the money wasn't an issue in either scenario!