>Should all of us be active do-gooders?

>Marianne Williamson once wrote “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Now I’m aware that Williamson’s argument was not exactly in line with the question but it raises some interesting points. Do we fear our strengths as much as, or perhaps even more than our weaknesses? Does “our playing small” not serve the world? Should we all be more active? Or is it acceptable for someone to turn down an evening of volunteering when they know they’d be doing nothing otherwise? Is it acceptable for someone to work their entire lives on the minimum wage when they have the potential to do so much more?

2 comments

  • >Good question.Playing small or living large can put some theories of sociology/politics/natural science at odds with each other.Mainly soceity vs the individual. It also can determine people's ability to empathise and gain acceptance with others, etc,.Therefore the decision would come down to a personal one, based on the persons upbringing, culture, personality, and perceptions of reward and risk.In a developing 'meritocracy' you could expect more people to attempt to shine and focus on their own development. In cultures that are more community based, you might expect people to seek out the 'average' and make sure we're all moving together, more or less.

  • >Good answer.I think there is such a thing as a group identity, and a group conscious. For example think about what you're prepared to say in front of a crowd of one hundred of your friends and family. You might be a bit nervous. Yet speaking to any one of them individually you would probably be perfectly at ease speaking your mind. In fact I can give a better example. When a group of women live in a solitary place together for some time, like camping together, or living in prison or an army camp, the group naturally start to synchronise periods so that everyone literally copies the most dominant personality in their group. So in other words I agree that it depends on the group you're within. However this is not to say that it always should, even if sometimes it must.I have this theory that people naturally draw circles around themselves. Those who are psychologically vulnerable, or not endowed with the right skills, luck or finances to do well in life often struggle to draw a circle that encompasses themselves. The most normal type of person would be the one able to draw a circle around him/herself and a few select friends and family members, so that they're able to care for themselves and also a few others. It's only the few who're able to draw a wider circle, and look to help many more people. The thing is though that in this regard I disagree with Marianne. Society, particularly in the developed world, helps give us the ability to draw wider circles e.g. through giving us the ability to set up a direct debit where we pay a few pounds/euros a month to those in need, with no further effort required. We do not need to be able to draw a wide circle to be 'do-gooders' if this is all we need to do. All we need to do is help draw a tiny part of a much wider circle. But we don't fear our ability to do this as she says. In fact our abilities have the biggest results when we all act together. Perhaps we can fear our collective ability to destroy. But our collective ability to help?! The reason not enough people donate to charity is not because of their fear of how much power they would be exerting.And to be perfectly honest who ever thinks "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"? There are very few people who seriously think they tick all those boxes, and I doubt they're the sorts of people to sit at home worrying about why God gave them such features when He didn't give them to others.To summarize, in an ideal world everyone would be a 'do-gooder', but because we don't live in one not everyone has the power to do as much good as each other. However we collectively have the power to do a lot more than we are already, and of that we should not be fearful. So this is my attempt to change our global group identity to make everyone more charitable.

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