Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This topic is too broad. I’ve been meandering between topics and writing late at night. Not always bad, but now this conversation is too wishy-washy and vague for me to even follow (and I’m referring to my own post!)

So far it’s about favors done with expectations in mind, it’s about political and/or power maneuvering for good or ill results, it’s about places where people of very different views can interact. And in spite of the fear that this post will continue the broadness of the topic, I have one thing to say about each of these ideas.

1.) I understand that we all interact with each other, personally and professionally, expecting that the favors we receive or give are part of a big exchange that will net us better off. I agree with Norma, when it is overly pre-meditated or specific to one favor or act it becomes artless and distasteful. The people who are the best at it either do it instinctively and unconsciously or they are keeping in mind the larger picture. Which means: if they lend this band saw to their fellow church member, they may not get that exact person to give them a favor back – but in the long run, probably, someone will. This is where this idea intersects with religion. (Yes Norma, you got it.) I thought that all my good will would be rewarded by God. I was nice because I thought some big guy in the sky was watching. I didn’t need someone to be nice back, because I guess I thought the payoff was in the afterlife. I think I’m still nice, but now I have to rethink everything. Why am I? Because I want to? Why do I want to? I think in general “being nice” (whatever that really means) pays off. It has for me I think, in tangible ways. In any case, this is something I have been mulling over ever since I lost my faith in God and let go of the idea of ultimate justice or ultimate reward. Recently Michael said to me, “Maybe you aren’t so nice. Maybe you’re just a pushover.” I was so floored. I think he might be right.

2.) On the political front, yes. This tendency of ours to maneuver our resources to gain power has yielded good and bad results. Probably mostly progress. Well, maybe. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is water in Los Angeles. I only recently began to read about Mulholland and the Los Angeles water wars and the draining of the Owens valley so that L.A. could have water. Why did Mulholland do it? Why did the city officials do it? Was it ultimately the right thing? As I said to Michael recently, “Everything I know about water in Los Angeles comes from seeing ‘Chinatown.’” Jeez. And I’ve lived here for over twenty years. Now I want to know all the grizzly details. While I paddle around in my swimming pool. And the sprinklers water the grass so I can luxuriate in it after my swim.

On political maneuvering - a personal anecdote: I remember once when I was performing at the Groundlings and the executives from Saturday Night Live were scouting the place for new talent. And one of the other Groundling actors said to me with a smirk, “I’m sure you'll do well, Julia. You really know how to work the political system around here.” I was so shocked. I didn’t think of it that way. I just thought I was doing the best job I could, hanging out with the more talented performers because I liked them more. But now I look back and think I was so unaware of my behavior. If I had to do it over, I would have probably been MORE political instead of insisting to myself that I wasn’t and didn’t care and that this was beneath me. I think I am in a state of arrested development in this area. Later on, once I was aware of my ambition (however meek it was comparatively) my actions were awkward and patently obvious. I wasn’t that good at it. I wish I were better, and I want to get better at this.

3.) On the topic of places where people of different views can interact: I loved Sheldon’s post about living in central California in between conservatives and liberals. I think I would probably feel exactly the same way! I have problems with both of those ideologies. I recommend that you read this month’s issue of Wired which talks about organic food (among many other things) and making truly good choices. Often the organic choice is the worst one – it was shipped from far away, for example. When conventionally grown produce that was grown locally has a lower carbon footprint. The only thing I have to say about this is that I probably do live in proximity to a lot of people with very different views from my own. On my own block I think there are several more conservative families, but I just don’t ever talk to them about politics. Or actually, anything. It is true that I avoid conversations about politics with people I disagree with – in general. I wish I were more comfortable with it. Well, I guess I did "Letting Go of God." I guess that's how I can be confrontational, on a stage where I can have my say!


spajadigit said...

On topic number one, I think you always give with the expectation that you might never get. I'm really lucky- I am in an industry where I get pretty well compensated, and I have a few friends and family who don't. So... If it's not a financial burden, what does it hurt to help? It's awesome when others do nice things in return, but I don't think it should ever be expected.

BTW, I love your writing style, Julia. I've heard your LGoG show and your postings sound just like the way you speak. It's awesome.

JB said...

If it helps, don't think of reciprocal altruism as a deliberate and conniving tactic. Reciprocal altruism is the emergent behaviour of the selfish genes present in yourself and other members of your community.

You can still act completely selflessly and compassionately towards others and do favours with no expectation of return. It just so happens that other people have been programmed similarly, and that leads to the further proliferation of the genes causing the charitable behaviour.

Sheldon said...

In my Social Psychology class we spend a lot of time (too much?) talking about why humans help each other. It's an interesting topic, but a polarizing one, too.

The largest heading for this topic is Prosocial Behavior (any act intended to benefit another person). Under that are two subtopic: Benevolence (any act that intentionally benefits another but produces no external reward for you), and Pure Altruism (any act that intentionally benefits another but produces no external or internal reward).

Famed social psychologist Rober Cialdini says that the last one cannot exist. That's where the debate comes in. People like thinking that they help people just because it's part of their nature, but it's pretty easy to point out possible ways they helped themselves in the process. Even the "good feeling" we get from helping someone bumps you right out of the Altruism category.

One day while challenging the class to think up a scenario in which Pure Altruism could happen, a very excited student said, "Okay, I got it! I'm walking down the street and see a woman on a railroad track with a train speeding toward her. I run over and knock her out of the way, and get splattered by the train. If I'm dead, I'm not around to enjoy any benefits, internal or external! That's altruistic!"

Another student calmly said, "I bet you felt pretty heroic on the jog over there though, huh?"

His shoulders just sank.

Anonymous said...

Julia, I'm wondering if you've been spending way too much time around Hollywood movers and shakers! :-)

Yes, for some people, helping people out is a fairly deliberate "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" thing. And for some people, meeting other people is a conscious "I've got to build up a network and make some connections so I can get ahead" thing.


But for many others, helping people out is something you do because you empathize with the other person. And meeting people is something that you do because you like people.

It's the difference between joining a health club because you want to get fit and joining because you want to meet chicks and get laid. The action is the same; the motivation is completely different.

Go ahead: Borrow the damn band saw. Nobody is going to show up with a bill.

Woozle said...

#1 - I don't think we need to feel like our "niceness" is really somehow motivated by selfishness. I maintain that we're nice to people we like because we want those people -- and niceness in general -- to do well and spread.

Also, of course, if we're nice to other people, they're more likely to be nice to us. This latter reason might be somehow construed as "selfish" (I'd say that's going a bit far, myself; "non-altruistic", perhaps), but certainly not the first reason.

We also often try to be nice to people we're neutral towards (e.g. random strangers) because they might be nice people, and if the cost (to us and to "niceness" in general) of being mean to a nice person outweighs the benefit of being nice to a mean person; to put it another way, I'd rather live in a society that was a little too nice to everyone (including mean people) than one which was unnecessarily mean.

#2, maneuvering and manipulation - have you read much about "authoritarianism"? I highly recommend Dr. Bob Altemeyer's online book The Authoritarians, based on psychological research over the past few decades, if you haven't already read it. (Go to the HTML or PDF links on that page.)

In short: some people are born manipulators, some are born followers, and some people are more naturally cooperative, friendly, peer-to-peer types (such as yourself). The manipulators tend to be extremely unprincipled and gravitate towards power, although they are the ones who should be kept furthest away from it. Power doesn't corrupt (it attracts the already corrupted), and we do learn from history (the manipulators have their own agenda which includes using those "lessons" for their own ends -- which often involves repeating what seem like "mistakes" to us, because they know how to extract personal benefit from those "mistakes"). This is why we still get into wars, for the most part.

On SNL, you always came across to me (regardless of the character) as someone who (a) likes being amusing for the sake of being amusing, and (b) likes to make other people laugh because it's fun to see other people enjoying themselves. Some people may have selfish, power-driven motives for doing what they do, and this may make it easier to succeed (especially if you measure "success" with a dollar-sign), but the creative people who are best remembered and best loved over time are the ones who did it for the sake of what they were creating.

I hope that makes sense and addresses what you seem to be worrying about...

#3 (mostly an irrelevant aside) - I find it quite ironic that farmer's markets, which are so very much a revival of down-home America -- which the conservatives claim so much love for -- are almost entirely a liberal initiative (at least around here).

Petra said...

I like to think that I do nice things for other people just because it is the right thing to do. Many times, I derive pleasure from the IDEA that I am helping people, and I know it makes me happy when people acknowledge that I was helpful. That is my reward, pure and simple. But I would still be helpful even without the reward. (Sometimes I am even though I am punished for it - but that is a familial issue best not addressed!)

However, I have come to realize that having the same expectations of others will only lead to a real disappointment in mankind. For example, I belong to a little crafty group which meets one Sunday a month to hang out and work on projects. Though many of these groups charge a fee for the space, our group does not.

In honor of Memorial Day, the two of us that run the group suggested that each person who was attending should make (or supply the materials for us to make) five thank you cards to send to men and women serving in the military (we have a connection that will send them for us). Not too much to ask, right? Do something nice for other people JUST because it is a nice thing to do.

What happened? THREE of us made cards... out of about a dozen people. I was SO disappointed in humanity after that. I mean I don't believe in this war, but I am not going to ignore the people who are giving their lives for it!

(As an aside, though I am not sure it is relevant, the three of us who actually contributed were the LEAST religious of the group - which is made up of some pretty strong bible thumpers.)

You always make me think Julia! Thank you.

: ) P

Lunamor said...

As for the doing of favors and why: I find that while I have left my faith, my kindness has remained. And it seems truer because I'm not doing it necessarily because of a cosmic watchdog OR because I'll get something out of it - I just really truly enjoy doing things for people. I think there are plenty of people who are the same way.

As for the 3rd point, I think each of us just has so much emotional energy to spend, and why spend a lot of it in verbal disagreements with people over things that are highly personal? I might have plenty of points of disagreements with my neighbors over religion or politics, but there are many things we can talk about and still enjoy one another's company. I don't think avoiding those topics is necessarily a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand the source of the angst, unless one believes that there is some correlation between human kindness and the teachings of religion or of faith in a god that doles out punishment and reward.

Is there any indication that the religious are more or less generous than those either non-believers or those who reject entirely the idea of organized observance?

My own experience, admittedly anecdotal and possibly self-serving is that lack of faith contributes to a more salutary generosity - giving to, and helping others AS ASKED without necessarily thinking in terms of earthly OR unearthly recompense.

Once the concept of reward is introduced into the concept of generosity or even empathy, then we are no longer speaking of sharing with others, but of the fulfillment of a requirement, which is not the same thing.
Consider: it is possible that once we have to stop to think about the meaning of giving, of sharing, of how and why we do it or don't, then we are no longer evincing personal altruism but the evidence of personal ego.
I think.

Norma Manna Blum

Anonymous said...

Pat: Kyle, may I borrow your band saw?

Kyle: Sure, Pat.

Pat: Oh, great! Ever since I decided to leave my church it's been impossible to find any tools!

Kyle: Aw, Pat, you left your church?

Pat: I had to! I couldn't be part of an organization that treats people like me as second-class citizens!

Kyle: Aha! You mean women?

Pat: I mean atheists! It's so discriminatory!

Kyle: Aaarrrgghhh!

K.C. said...

I tell you, when you are just nice to be nice. When you can just be generous to be generous "for no reason" and expect nothing for it, then you will get such a reward for it.

That sounds like such a religious statement, huh? I swear to you that it isn't. I can't even begin to tell you what happens. Whenever you are sweet to your daughter, doesn't it feel awesome. Doesn't she smile at you and feel special. It is the same with other people.

People just want you to make them feel good. Really, that is the truth. It is like when you drive through a restaurant and the girl at the window is especially nice to you "for no particular reason". It makes your day a little bit. It's a little like that...

Anonymous said...

獸醫師 姓名學 消防法 加盟 BVI 禿頭 聽力檢查 動物醫院 生髮 喇叭網 工商登記 消防設備 境外公司 汽車美容玻璃清潔汽車保養汽車美容 陶瓷 陶瓷禮品 公益團體 愛心捐款 捐款 長期照顧抓姦尋人徵信公司徵信陶藝 美國月子中心子宮頸抹片檢查子宮肌瘤到府坐月子馬克杯
連鎖加盟創業開店開店創業加盟連鎖大圖輸出展場設計施工會場佈置櫥窗佈置遊學代辦遊學在職進修碩士班碩士班愛心捐款 捐款 長期照顧慈善基金會 馬克杯 團體服 熱轉印 排汗衫展示架情人花束
通馬桶 馬桶不通 化糞池清理 清潔公司 抽水肥

Anonymous said...

獸醫師 姓名學 消防法 加盟 BVI 禿頭 聽力檢查 動物醫院 生髮 喇叭網 工商登記 消防設備 境外公司 汽車美容玻璃清潔汽車保養汽車美容 陶瓷 陶瓷禮品 公益團體 愛心捐款 捐款 長期照顧抓姦尋人徵信公司徵信陶藝 美國月子中心子宮頸抹片檢查子宮肌瘤到府坐月子馬克杯
連鎖加盟創業開店開店創業加盟連鎖大圖輸出展場設計施工會場佈置櫥窗佈置遊學代辦遊學在職進修碩士班碩士班愛心捐款 捐款 長期照顧慈善基金會 馬克杯 團體服 熱轉印 排汗衫展示架情人花束
通馬桶 馬桶不通 化糞池清理 清潔公司 抽水肥

Anonymous said...

Heavy Copper PCBTelecom PCBMicrowave PCBPMedical PCBFlex PCB水餃 素食 素食料理 素食水餃 素食食譜 活動企劃 字幕機 跑馬燈關鍵字行銷 網站排名 seo seo 關鍵字廣告 網站優化 關鍵字行銷 關鍵字行銷 business to business b2b b2b information b2b Business-to-business B2B Marketing b2b b2b 助聽器公司 聽障 聽力檢查 助聽器 聽障 醫學美容美容醫學美容診所玻尿酸肉毒桿菌宜蘭住宿宜蘭飯店花蓮住宿台東住宿台東飯店裝修 舊屋翻新 豪宅設計 桃園室內設計公司園藝景觀設計贈品 雷射雕刻 瓷器 生活用品 禮品 汽車美容 汽車美容 中古車 二手車 隔熱紙 徵信社離婚小老婆

Anonymous said...

抓姦尋人渡假村鐵道之旅線上訂房訂房網宜蘭訂房壁癌 油漆粉刷 救國團毛克利夏令營兒童夏令營夏令營活動相親銀行聯誼婚友社 婚友社婚友水管不通洗水塔消毒通水管通馬桶Mba博士班在職碩士在職進修碩士班推廣教育姓名學姓名配對星座星座運勢算命調查通姦出軌徵信外遇助聽器價格助聽器公司聽障聽力檢查助聽器加盟連鎖創業開店人力派遣公司連鎖加盟創業開店OBUCPA投審會Setup Company會計師美國代買美國代購韓國代購香港代購大陸代購
樓梯扶手 店面設計 南方松 欄杆扭力測試機充磁射出成型自動化自動組立機

Anonymous said...

飛梭雷射除斑瑜伽 plastic mold 模具廠 hand dryer pcb manufac-turer plastic mold hook and loop hand dryer pcb manufactur-er pcb china plastic mold hook and loop hand dryer pcb manufac-turer pcb china plastic mold hook and loop USB connec-tor RCA Jack mini usb 開 關 汽車美容 汽車美容 玻璃清潔 汽車保養 汽車美容 汽車美容 中古車 二手車 中古車 打蠟 二手車 汽車強制險 汽車美容保養 中古車 打蠟 汽車美容保養 隔熱紙 汽車美容 汽車美容 汽車美容 玻璃清潔 汽車保養 汽車美容 汽車美容 中古車 二手車 二手車 網站排名 關鍵字廣告 網站優化 關鍵字行銷 關鍵字 seo seo轉軸設備

Anonymous said...

自動組立機 自動化設備 轉軸設備 自動化量測 CNC車床 CNC車床加工 CNC電腦加工 五金工具 五金零件 各類五金販賣 自動車床加工 電子材料 黏扣帶 黏扣帶 磁鐵 磁鐵 中古儀器 二手儀器 儀器出租 儀器租賃 儀器買賣 安捷倫 收購儀器 網路分析儀 電子儀器 頻譜分析儀 儀器維修 中古儀器 二手儀器 儀器出租 太克 安捷倫 維修儀器 訊號產生器 頻譜分析儀 實驗動物 塑膠射出成型 塑膠射出模具 射出模具 塑膠射出 模具 塑膠射出廠 模具設計 Oem代工廠 模具廠 導光板 塑膠射出成型 塑膠射出模具 塑膠模具 塑膠射出 射出模具 射出成型 模具開發 塑膠製造 塑膠工廠 自動化 扭力測試機 充磁 射出成型自動化 慈善 義賣 義賣活動 慈善機構 慈善基金會 老人安養 安養慈善機構

Anonymous said...

婚友社 婚友聯誼 交友聯誼 相親 相親銀行 聯誼 婚友社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 外遇 徵信社 離婚 調查 外遇 徵信社 外遇 徵信社 外遇 徵信 外遇 徵信社 尋人 外遇 外遇 徵信社 外遇 徵信 抓姦 徵信社 徵信 外遇 抓姦 外遇 徵信外遇 徵信社 外遇 抓姦 韓國代購 美國代買 美國代購 韓國代購 香港代購 大陸代購 水晶 PCB QUICK WASH Pcb manufacturer pcb china Rohs pcb R&S 頻譜分析儀洗包包品格 洗鞋加盟 LV 台中漆彈場 漆彈 戰場 漆彈槍 OBU CPA 投審會 Setup Company

ntin index said...

Chia sẻ blogs http://thucphamtotchoda.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://chamsocdamato.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://cachchamsocdamatbang.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://daytresosinh.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://biquyetgiamcanhay.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://treem4thangtuoi.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://treem5thangtuoi.blogspot.com/
Chia sẻ blogs http://treem6thangtuoi.blogspot.com/