Monday, December 17, 2007

Beneficence

Went out t'get the paper this morning (it's a wonderful source of things to sneer at, not to mention general-purpose packing and garbage wrap!) and was reminded of a gift that made coping all the snow and cold hugely easier, not to mention the typing afterwards: One of my very best friends in the whole world* gave me a pair of super-duper gloves, way better than anything I've ever owned. (Quoth: "Oh, they're extra, I'm not usin' em!") All day yesterday, my hands never even felt a chill. That is a new thing; after doin' Bigtime Media Engineering year-'round, I have spent many too many Winter days working outdoors with bare hands, doing complex things in the chill and playin' Apache about the pain. Having warm hands in the snow is a luxury!

Sometimes I have the heart of an Objectivist (yes, yes, right here on the desk, in a highly-rational ceramic Klein bottle...). Altruisim's stupid. But if you have extra and you choose to share, that's beneficience. I doubt even dear Aunt Ayn would so very much Object to that.

The big-deal holidaze can be a rough time, especially the pair comin' up. Especially as the years roll on. Givin' gifts is often presented as some form of charity, as altruism but more often, there's an intangible quid pro quo: a feeling of connectedness. It can be a comfort to giver and receiver alike.
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* Yeah, sometimes I talk like that. Cope.

8 comments:

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

I agree, and think Rand would as well.

In Shrugged, She made her thoughts towards donating money very clear. Yet, Reardon gives gifts to those HE wants to please, because sometimes other peoples happiness is necessary to your own.

I never, ever, give money to charities that will spend it in ways I can't follow. But, I will often give directly when I see a need, or can make someone happy. It gives ME joy to do that.

The people who think we should give till it hurts, then feel guilty for having something to give... screw them.

Tam said...

Hey, if they kept my fingers mobile in ten-degree weather with an 80mph headwind, a bit of snow shouldn't faze 'em.

Breda said...

Brand, make, model, etc., please. I'm in the market. (and I live in NE Ohio and the snow has just hit - so hurry!)

Squeaky Wheel said...

Agreed! One thing that bothers me a lot about Christmas is the "need" to buy presents that everyone exhibits, as if that's the only way you're ever going to be able to show someone you care. The best gifts are the ones given with a specific purpose in mind...the ones that have been thought out, and thought to make a difference in the receiver's life, however small or big that difference may be.

Also, those gloves sound awesome. What kind are they? When I take photos outside, my hands freakin' freeze, and as long as I can mash the shutter, I don't care how immobile the rest of me is, as long as my hands are warm! :-)

Roberta X said...

They're very well-insulated, Squeaky, and mobile enough to operate the controls of a motorcycle (as Tam points out). You may need to get creative with your shutter release, depending on the camera.

These may be extra warm, 'cos they came from a friend; the label says "Olympia Sports Co. Inc., Style # 6000, Top Grade Leather Palm Patch." The palm's a grippy suede; rest of the glove outer shell is a tight synthetic (the WATER PROOF tag on the left was borne out by experiment) and the liner is a soft fleece. They're cold weather motorcycling (or snowmobiling) gloves!

I'd already learned from buying riding gear that the very best gloves are to be found at 'cycle outfitters. These are a cut above. They're not "armored," as many are, which makes them better for all-around Winter use. I'd advise checking out nearby places that sell motorcycle/ATV/etc. gear (not the Harley shops unless you've gotta have it: you pay plenty extra for the HD logo).

In the name brands, you get what you pay for with this stuff. A good pair of gloves won't be inexpensive but they'll last and last!

(If you're confident of your size or don't mind a few iterations, online sellers like newenough.com often have good deals).

Roberta X said...

The most gentle of my knights and my salvaged Random House Dictnary of the English Language both tell me there is but one "i" in the "beneficence," just like Odin. Except without the raven.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noted there are a few oddities in my orthography. Ummm, I may have skipped a grade or two as a child and a class or six as a teen; there are some things for which drill is a necessity. Orthography, for one. Typing, for another. Ooops?

comatus said...

In the 18th century, this thought was on many minds. Our modern idea of humanity as a cold-blooded collection of chemicals was familiar then, and some otherwise hard-headed fellows cast about to avoid feeling guilty for their better angels.

Locke said that, absent the play of pleasure and pain, man would be "a very idle unactive Creature" and "pass his time only in a lazy lethargick Dream" (seem familiar? Hell, seem attractive?) He felt there must be a moral sixth sense. This became so accepted that Jefferson wrote about it, declaring the white races wanting in comparison to their African wards.

Adam Smith wanted to work out a more complex psychology, and got this far: "How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."
A sort of Kantian category of bonhomie. You could build a state socialism on this, but somehow Smith's followers didn't.

I reckon Rand, working her one good trick of blowing off false dichotomies, took this to a logical(no, emotional. No, logical...)conclusion. Check your premises, don't be misled, but, having achieved a balanced station, emotion is a response to logic and will not betray you. Go ahead and give the damn present. "Here. I want you to have this." I want.

comatus said...

Sadly, I'm unable to contrive an Objectivist rationale for the office party or Secret Santa. I'm guessing the Invisible Hand must be involved somehow.