Good deeds don’t need to be grandiose
It is an unfair generalisation to state that do-gooders remind others of their own selfishness. ‘Good deeds’ is a subjective term, and everyone has their own definition of what a good deed is. Some individuals volunteer at a food kitchen, some donate vast amounts of money; both are valid forms of good deeds and comparing them is like comparing oranges to apples. The incentive to do something noble isn’t about alleviating feelings of guilt but to do something that stimulates positive change, no matter how minute it might be. It is challenging to determine what priorities are. Priorities vary for everyone and can be based on the circumstances of one’s life. Someone whose family member suffered cancer might prioritise cancer advocacy, someone else might focus on environmental change. Good deeds don’t even need to be grandiose; parents raising decent children can be classified just as worthy a feat. To state that do-gooders raise a dilemma for others is grossly unfair to so many individuals who contribute positively in their own way within their own limitations or opportunities. I do agree that there are people who are perceived as doing more good than others. Instead of seeing them as a source of angst or guilt, I see them as a source of inspiration and empowerment. They can be revolutionaries or people who fought against social injustice. But, they can also be people like my parents, brother, husband and his family, who through small but significant actions, inspire me every day to be a better person.
From Ms Sarah Iqbal-Khan
Strategist based in Toronto, Canada
Morality raises questions about setting priorities
Almost every culture from the beginning of the human race up to now has had very different standards and beliefs about what is moral and what isn’t. Some actions that are frowned upon greatly by developed countries are considered normal and may even be honourable traditions in developing countries. At the start of evolution of the human race, humans did not have morals charted out for them. They did what they needed to survive, morals evolved as a sort of intervention to keep people from doing things that might harm others in the process of survival. Things such as incest, bestiality, mass murder were understood to be wrong. At some point morality included the idea that the rich, who seemed to be getting more from society, had an obligation to give back to the society, especially the poor who have nothing. It is true that people who do good deeds make others uneasy because this raises the question about how important it is to do good deeds for others. Doing bad is not the only alternative to doing good. Sometimes, people are not doing any good or bad, they are just minding there own business. They might as an individual, be sacrificing their own interest for those of their family members, they are still doing a good deed. Morality always raises a question about setting your priorities, because what might seem a good deed to one be a responsibility for another.
From Mr Joslin Austin
Assistant purchase manager at a firm based in Dubai
Morals should be based on logic
It seems like so many people use morality as a way to determine what is right and what is wrong. There is nothing wrong with this, however I feel logic can be much better at determining social standards than morality. Morals are good to have, but they should be at least to some degree, based on logic. Morals should basically only be a guideline to have in life. This also makes it important that the guideline is good and does not bring any harm to another. Do-gooders don’t exactly raise a dilemma about what should be the priority in our lives. But to an extent they make you feel that doing good deeds should be among those priorities. But if doing good comes in your way of having to compromise on your own responsibilities, then doing the right thing cannot be clear cut. If you are in a situation where you have only a bowl of rice and you need to feed yourself and your child, then you might sacrifice thinking that feeding your child is your priority. But if you have a homeless hungry man comes knocking at your door, you will be torn between whether to compromise on your child’s hunger and give him some food out of your little share, or sacrifice your goodwill and still feed your own child. I feel that a non-conformist who chooses to flout the herd morality is doing nothing more morally wrong, he or she is just being uncultured. It is very easy to confuse morals with culture. Morality is a very subjective topic. An important question is would you be doing a good deed if no one was watching you or no one knew about it?
From Mr Amal Jacob
Communications student based in Delhi, India
KICKER: ATTITUDE Every person views morality differently
I don’t agree that people who do good deeds make others uneasy just because it reminds them of their own selfishness. Every person views morality differently, what might be the right thing to one isn’t necessarily right to the other. Moreover, I feel that a lot of times we lose resources and energy vital to our own survival when helping others. For example, when people see a person involved in an accident, some people choose to not help, because of the time and effort it would take out of their own limited time or for the fear of being trapped in a series of legal procedures that will follow. When people prioritise certain things in life it is rarely because what other people are doing. It is mostly for self-satisfaction. People, who chose to prioritise doing good deeds, may be doing so because it satisfies them to be a morally superior person. Some choose to prioritise their own family and lead a comfortable life than choosing to help another in need. You don’t necessarily need to help other people. If one thinks oneself and one’s own family is more important, there is nothing wrong in that. Very often, doing good and helping others leads to people thinking that they are entitled to whatever you have. Very often, when one penny is given at gunpoint, two pennies are demanded at gunpoint. If you are a do-gooder some people take it for granted and if you don’t help later on, you are subjected to resentment and regret. These relationships then need to be fixed. Everything has a cost, and if you allocate one resource somewhere, all other depending relationships and responsibilities will suffer. We all know that we all have our own personal set of opinions on what is right and wrong, but there is not and never will be a universal agreement on what is right and wrong.
From Ms Sonal Tiwari
Associate producer at a film-production company based in Mumbai, India
Morality is not a constant, it is ever evolving
‘Morality’ originates from the Latin word ‘Moralis’, which is defined as a set of principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong. However, the million dollar question is who defines what is right or wrong and what is/are the source/s of morality? Mahatma Gandhi – a strong advocate of morality had his own sources. It was evident in his speech titled ‘Economic and Moral Progress’ where most of his quotes are from the Bible, along with a quote from a famous British scientist to emphasize his points and beliefs. The Pashtuns around the world are guided by Pashtunwali - an unwritten tribal honour code. Though morality is not a constant and is ever evolving, for me there are certain non-negotiables, based on my faith, when it comes to moral values that I have imbibed as I grew up. My parents played a decisive role in infusing those morals in me. My father lived the phrase “Word is my bond”, that is one good moral I picked up from him. The globally accepted moral values, “Honour your parents, thou shalt not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet”, are taken straight out of ‘The Ten Commandments’ that are mentioned in the Old Testament. Some of these morals have even been legislated in many countries. To conclude, I would categorically state that one must have the courage to uphold morality rather than having the fear of it, to make this world a better place for all.
From Mr Jeremiah Jasher
Head of recruitment at a firm based in Sharjah