Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I used to be impossibly ignorant. I used to actually believe that all good deeds get rewarded. Once I outgrew my youthful naivete, I realized that the cliche may be jaded, but is true: No good deed goes unpunished.

Why do I continue to do any good works at all? Sometimes I really don't know and I wish I would just quit being such a patsy. I often dream of being a completely selfish individual, but that's just not who I am. And I really am a sucker for a good cause.

Ideally, everyone who takes part in a philanthropic organization is doing it for completely altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, that's not often the case. Nothing seems to bring out pride in a person like charitable work. Don't believe me? Try neglecting to thank someone for their donation sometime and let me know how that works out. If one does good work so that they can get their ass kissed, they're doing it for the completely wrong reasons. I'm not saying that their work is worthless, but I am saying that their intentions are wrong.

Among the other causes that I support, I've been participating in a particular organization for several years. The egos can be staggering. Is it biologically possible for maturity to stop just shy of adulthood? Because the cattiness displayed by grown women sometimes reminds me of teenaged girls. And I'm not talking about the sexy ones having pillowfights that reside only in men's dreams. I'm talking about the gossip, the backbiting, the general bitchiness that is the hallmark of female puberty. I'm not saying that every member is like this, but it's enough and I find it distasteful. I truly wonder why everyone can't just check their ego at the door and focus on doing good things for a worthy cause.

My current role in this organization is very limited, but specific. Tonight I received a phone call because someone was offended about something that I do for this group. Naturally, this call came in right at my kiddo's bedtime and I was absolutely not in the mood to smooth a grown woman's ruffled feathers when I had an upset baby on my hands. However, I take my role seriously and I listened patiently to the complaint.

I was already perturbed and was further dismayed when I realized that I wasn't even the responsible party. I explained this at least three different times in this conversation and I heard the same complaint over and over again. Why did I listen politely? I'm really kicking myself for not being curt and finishing the conversation after the first go around. My baby was crying and ready for bedtime. We have a very regimented bedtime routine that doesn't vary from night to night. It was difficult to get him to go to bed tonight because we had a major interruption in the routine this evening.

I let someone's wounded pride cause me to neglect my son's immediate needs. And, in my view, pride shouldn't even be an issue because this is work done for a charitable cause. Even worse, I wouldn't ordinarily be in this role for the organization. But I was asked to fill this position by a family member (who clearly didn't realize that I already keep a busy schedule) and I'm only doing this as a favor. Yeah, yeah, no good deed goes unpunished. I'm completely frosted and would love to shout in frustration - but I'd probably wake the baby!

I like philanthropy. I like that I'm able to help advance the living conditions of those who aren't as blessed. I like participating in charitable causes because I need the reminder that everything I have can be taken away in an instant. I do it because I want to be used to demonstrate God's love and provision. Giving to others makes me more aware of (and thankful for) all that I have been given from God.

I don't do it for the accolades; I actually prefer to act in an anonymous capacity so I don't fall prey to my own foolish pride. I wish others had the same attitude.

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