Monday, October 24, 2016

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

My sister was telling me how much I helped her when cancer had her down.

I didn't do most of the hard work in helping her. I was just there, mostly.

But my being there was important. I could figure out what she needed when others couldn't, among other things.

Going to help her helped me in intangible but important ways. But if I had gone to help her with the intention of helping myself, I would probably have ended up helping no one.

Essentially, the doctors had given her less than a month to live. I was able to figure out things she could eat. (... with help from God, but, if I say that out loud, people will think I'm a nutcase and dismiss what I'm saying here as the rantings of a lunatic. That they are the rantings of a lunatic is irrelevant.)

With (just barely) enough nutrition, her body was able to fight off the secondary infections, and the cancer surgery was successful. She has now been in remission for several years.

I really needed to get out of the computer industry at the time, and going to help her helped me to start taking the steps to do so.

This is an example of a couple of the reasons why government programs are not the solution to our really difficult problems.

None of what my sister and I dealt with fits the rules that institutions have to follow. We had to behave as individuals, not as social automata.
We had to have each other's well-being at high priority, and government institutions can't deal with that. They can only deal with things that they can depend on, which requires them to assume self-interest first.

Self-interest is not too evil if it is at least enlightened and moderated by the recognition that unbounded greed is self-destructive.

Self-interest is a good thing when it is enlightened by the principle that we are all raised up a bit when any one of us rises, and by the principle that long-lasting improvements are obtained by different means than the next-big-thing.

We cannot help ourselves if we don't help others.

We cannot succeed in helping others if our goal is our own immediate gain. Nor can we succeed if we insist on helping them by our rules. (It's the same thing, but it's easy to fool ourselves into believing we are helping when we are only trying to help them be like we think we ought to be. [And I meant that last "we". One reason we want others to be what we want them to be is that we are not what we want to be.])

But we can help others -- if we really have their well-being as our goal.

And if we help others, if we are really interested in helping them and not just pushing our own agendas and ideals on them, the good things we do come back to us.

What does this have to do with politics?

No political platform can address this kind of thing when the candidates want to win more than they want to serve.

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