Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why we hate to help

I've often wondered about why so many people have an adverse reaction to people, or animals for that matter, who need help. I've been paying attention to people's reactions to the misfortunes of others for a long time. What fascinates me the most is blame. Everyone seems to do it, including me. See, my friend has recently lost her job and her home. While I feel terrible for her, I can admit that I have wondered what she has done wrong to deserve this situation. I think these kinds of thoughts are related to the idea of independence in our culture. We are all supposed to be independent, and never need each other's help. I think this idea is related to consumerism, because, after all, if I'm sharing my stuff, the person I'm sharing with doesn't need to buy any themselves.

I was reading a blog article yesterday, written by a Ukrainian woman, with a unique perspective on the Western notion of independence. I can not find it for the life of me now! I really value what she wrote. Basically, she says that we all need to identify people in our lives who are really there for us and ask for help. I do consider myself a helper, but I have noticed that my offers to help can sometimes be met with suspicion. I think each of us needs to look at what we can offer to the people in our lives, because I don't think the real issue is that people can't ask for help, I think it's that people refuse to give it, and look for reasons to explain why they should not have to help. This goes back to what I was saying above. If a person has does something to somehow "deserve" misfortune, then I'm off the hook for having to help, aren't I?

Overall, I think there needs to be a collective mental shift around the ideas of helping and being helped, and I'm going to look at this in my own life.

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