• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • I have all the intentions of giving a lot of my time and money to people and organizations but I find myself falling flat in this department. I do give donations or run charity races but it generally stops there. When I see souls like Brandon Stanton with Humans of New York telling amazing stories and being a part of life changing moments for those he interviews. Or Marc Ching who risks so much as he tries to rescue dogs from meeting an awful fate in the annual Yulin Festival, it just blows me away at the dedication and service they are providing. It seems these people and so many others have this internal drive to give their entire being to helping others. Were they always that way from day one or did something just switch in their brain to make them want to do this? Maybe they were shown as young kids/adults and it just clicked for them and they've never looked back. What do you think? Nature vs nurture?

    • Hmmm, I would love to have more insight about this. 🤔 Why are some people kind to animals and others not? Why do some billionaires spend their fortunes seeking cures to polio? Why do some photographers like Ben Von Wong get drawn to charity projects for the disadvantaged?

      My impression is some people are just born kind. I admire them.

    • I think both nature and nurture are probably involved.

      I know a few people who have just always been the kindest, sweetest people in the world. But I also know some people (myself included) who weren't always as kind or generous as they seem to be now.

      Kindness seems like a quality that's heavily dependent on empathy, and empathy is a skill that gets better the more you exercise it. As I've gotten older, I've experienced more things, learned more about myself and other people, and have seen more of the consequences of my words and actions. As a result of that I think I'm a kinder and more generous person now than I was five or ten or twenty years ago.

      Hopefully that trend will continue, because I'm far from perfect. 😄

    • I also think both nature and nurture are involved. For many of us, the desire to participate and give can be gated by our work and home life. While it should be possible to separate important things like giving from work, I know that when I was working much of my life was driven by work goals and keeping myself fit and sane and happy at the same time that I was working.

      It's much easier to have time to give since I retired - but I focus on choosing my volunteer activities, not allowing them to fill all available time. Maybe it's selfish but I feel that I need time to enjoy the outdoors, to focus on photography.

      I treasure some advice I got from a friend. She told me to choose a volunteer activity, get involved, and review after a period of time to check that it was something I wanted to continue doing. I've been careful to add more volunteer activities slowly, making sure that they all fit together seamlessly.

    • Keenan Wells

      Empathy being like a muscle is a concept that resonates with me.

      Im no scientist but given the hundreds of thousands of years humans have relied on each other for survival (and perhaps further back than that!), it makes sense we've at least developed an inate capacity for empathy. But I tend to agree that, in the end, our habits are perhaps driven by the culture we're surrounded with. It seems to me that might have a big role on how empathetic we actually are, day to day.

      Always making an effort to be more empathetic and understanding is a great outlook! Exercising that muscle is so important! I hope to get better at this, especially in the realm of contributing to my community.

    • I think it is a combination of seeing more of the world and maturing. Plus as I have aged my compensation has allowed me to be more generous with my donations. My time to volunteer though has gone down as a result. But I am more active subtler ways to help people as individuals. It isn't just about "charity".

      Some times it is just listening to people and not judging, which can be very difficult. Other times it is things like mentoring and taking an active role to help people succeed.

      I also think that my view of helping people changed when Elkhart County, Indiana US had a 20% yes 1 in 5 unemployment rate. That was about helping each other as needed. When a friend you are taking out for dinner to help him get out of the house and practice interviewing walks out with left overs it helps you feel good. When he then drops them off at his neighbors, that is when you see the best in people.

      Sometimes the kindest thing to do is the least costly, just to be with someone. A friend called it bearing witness. I say it is making sure that no one is alone.

      Probably a little wondered but to sum up:
      1) I am being nicer as I am getting older and seeing more of the world
      2) Not all niceness has to be formal charity
      3) I just try to make the world a little better everyday
      4) Giving into the Common Good is never a bad thing

    • Most of us are naturally caring towards others but invest more in people that are more closely related to us. It's fairly well established evolutionary theory on altruism. There's a smaller part of the population that doesn't care or empathize with others and they as you know are called psychopaths. Psychopaths are also an evolutionary stable strategy so long as they aren't too large a percentage of the population.

      Cultural influences can increase our level of altruism to include other people but I suspect it's more that society today provides more opportunities to help other people. The amount of excess we now have would also be a factor. What I mean by that is that at one time when hunan's were hunters and gatherers there wasn't much extra to give to others other than your direct help and a bit of food. Today the extra amount we have is enormous. When considered as a percentage of what we have we may actually be giving a lot less than we once were.