So, Why Did I Spend 3 Hours Trying To File My Mom’s Taxes?
I felt the need to write this since I see people on comments in various forums suggest that if you don’t think you will be punished for doing bad things, you will do bad things, or at least not do good things.
I find that is wrong. A lot of people just bargain with their supernatural entity of choice, explaining that they are really in the right or that they can confess minutes before they die. We’re a rationalizing species, not a rational one.
So how do I, at least, rationalize this act that wasn’t beneficial to me, but did help someone else?
I don’t think God is going to zap me for not doing it. No supernatural entity is going to reward me with heaven because I did it.
I don’t believe in karma, in the sense of what goes around, comes around. There are no magic vibes that balances the scales of the world. I’m not guaranteed that my daughter will help me in my old age. I don’t want to put that burden on her.
It definitely was not fun in any way shape or form. I don’t even share a lot of common interests with my mom.
So, according to some folks, I should have flat refused to help her. Reputedly, I have no reason to help her or anyone else.
But I wasn’t going to abandon the 70-year-old woman who birthed me, low those 40 years ago. I will be her in 30 years, and I would rather not be forced to face that sort of thing alone if I were in her shoes.
No one deserves to be alone in their old age. Whatever my history with her, she is a person, with all the good and bad that entails. She made a silly mistake which I could absolutely make; have absolutely made in the past. Why should she suffer more than I?
We both hate paperwork and are guilty of deciding we don’t need to do something against all evidence to the contrary. We both get frustrated and do lousy jobs to get the frustration away from us.
So, I identified with her.
And anyway, someone has to deal with this sort of thing in order to keep civilization moving. Does that sound grandiose? I don’t mean it to. I just mean that someone needs to do these small gestures, or they get lumped on social workers and simply don’t get done. This is the source of horrifying hoarder house in the neighborhood that is the source of all the neighbor’s cockroach infestations. We all live in this world and have to share it, so we all have a stake in doing a little kindness now and again.
I hope I have made someone’s life a little better, even if it is the roommate’s, who won’t get snapped at as much by my mom.
So, if you are asking, how would a person decide to do something nice if that person doesn’t believe they are being scrutinized by an all-knowing god, here are at least two answers: empathy and a wish to improve the world.