Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Helping Oneself

Philosophy Issue#2 (Issue#1 here)

Now this is a topic I find myself strongly being able to relate to. I’ve been told countless times “you have to do what you want, what do you want?”. I always have the same answer that I want to do what the right thing is, whether that’s what my parents say, or school says, or whoever I feel is right. It caused me to feel sandwiched with the whole college dilemma, since I didn’t know what I wanted for myself. Since I have such a strong care for others, I want what they want. (Although when I was babysitting, I realized I was sacrificing too much of myself and had to put an end to it.)

Jean Hampton in 1993 wrote an article called “Selflessness and the Loss of Self”. She discusses this topic of helping oneself and having self authorship. There are two “moral voices”, the ethic of care and the ethic of justice.

Women-ethic of care: they take into consideration people’s feelings. Mothers were trained to be this way since they have to raise a family and take care of their children. A mother has to care for her children and be aware of their feelings when siblings fight.

Men-ethic of justice: they make decisions based on logic. Men were trained to be this way since they are in the work place and have to make quick decisions. Business is all about quick decisions based on logic, they never think of the competitors feelings.

We have lots of mitzvos that are other related, “Vehafta L’reach Hakamocha” and you can’t embarrass another person, you have the mitzvah of “Kibud of Haem” and respecting your elders, and the midah of “anivus”. We have the concept of being “mevatar” to give something up for another person to have. All this trains us to be good moral people who care about others.

At the same time I fear we become so other oriented, that we loose focus of ourselves.

The question becomes how much do we owe to ourselves and how much to others?

Boys would say if responsibility to others and to oneself conflict then you go about 3/4 to yourself and 1/4 to others. Boys feel the most important thing in their decision is themselves.

Girls on the other hand would say it depends on the situation that if you have responsibility to someone else then you should keep it to the extent that it is really going to hurt you or stop you from doing something you really, really, want, then maybe you put yourself first. A girl would evaluate what she feels is more important, her job or someone she loves, and if it’s someone she barely knows then maybe she would go first.

Now I personally think the girl is being better. However, I do understand where it’s important to take care of oneself so as not to cause harm to oneself when taking care of others. A perfect example of the girl way of thinking is Tembow in her You want my... honey?? post.

Self authorship is needed for a person to make a decision that is based on what they choose to do, and not dictated by society. This enables you to grow as an individual. An example: an investment banker had wanted to be a clown his whole life, and even though he was making tons of money he didn’t feel satisfied so he decided to drop his job and go to clown school, now he has self authored his life.

I think self authorship is important to prevent a person from doing avairos. If a person chooses what they want, and if they want to do the right thing, then they will. But if they are pressured into doing what other people say, then they may be encouraged to do something they really don’t want to do, and thereby do an avaira.


tembow said...

Very interesting, JSB! I think as with everything in life, one has to have a balance between thinking of one's self and thinking of others. for each person this balance may be different. and with different roles will come different situations.
also i just have to be PC and mention that there are exceptions to the rule and there are guys who are very in-tune to others' feelings, and there are girls who are oblivious to everyone but themselves.

ps. thanks for the link :)

nmf #7 said...

I think the girl's approach is better, but again- as you mentioned, there is the problem of being 'too' self sacrificing. Oftentimes I find it hard in my own life to say, No. I just can't help right now. This happens oftentimes at my own/family's expense. So maybe the boy has it right!

Cacti Don't Cry said...

What if what someone wants isn't the "right" thing??

PS - Thanks for the comment ;)

Shorty said...

A big difference between men and women, is that women tend to the side of "nice". They always try to be nice, apologetic, helpful, even if it means putting their own mental health on hold. Don't say anything, because it isn't nice. Then they end up taking it out on other people (usually those they care about)...it is ok to be generous, helpful, kind, compassionate, but that has to be AFTER the self is taken care of somewhat - i am talking about the basics - personal health, sleep, nutrition. Many times, women will put all of that on hold, to fit everything in - whether it is for their families or their volunteer work. Women tend to seek acceptance, by doing more, they hope to gain more respect, or love or popularity. Men don't do that as much.

Babbling...sorry...i am sure i have a point...i put it somewhere...

mikeinmidwood said...

This is very generalistic, you have to look at everything with detail if you are trying to use logic, which means that you have to look at every person. With comedy you can generalize, if that leads to humor.

Katie said...

Very good point...If you don't help yourself, you really cant help others anyway. ..I hate outside pressure.

As a side note, I've got a relative in Israel who is a (really succesful) clown and loving it!

harryer than them all said...

so your post is basically saying that only women are caring? if so i couldn't disagree more. I would have phrased it that women base their decisions more on their emotions and how others would feel, and men based on logic. you make it sound that all men are terrible, to which i disagree.

שלמה ס"ט said...

I've never been a fan of generalizing differences between men and women like that. It's not that simple; there's a huge amount of individualism involved, and seeing all the members of one sex as exhibiting similar characteristics could lead one to misjudge another of the other sex.

Also; I don't see the logic in your last paragraph..

What happened to whole commenting apparatus here by the way? ..I can't figure it out..

http://www.thetalmudist.com said...

Wow; totally the type of book I've been looking for, for a long time. Thanks!

frum single female said...

sometimes its hard to do what you want if you are not sure what it is you actually want.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Thanks! That is true.
True, there are exceptions, because in this age things are different. The theory I mentioned was from a while ago.
Your welcome, anytime :)

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Right, exactly what I was thinking. It's really hard either way, and you need a little of both.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

The only reason why someone wouldn't want the right thing, is because there is something else distracting them, giving the impression that they want the other thing more, that they want to do the wrong thing.
Your welcome :)

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

True, that was the exact point of the article.
I was actually going to write about the women example, about gender roles, but then I took it out.
Not to worry, you did have a point, you actually made 2 points.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

right, I didn't make the generalization though, that was just what the article said, i just paraphrased it.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Thanx. True.
lol, I'm so glad you said that, cause I was really wondering about the clown part.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

It's not mean to say that only women are caring.
I didn't mean to make it seem like all men are terrible.
Just that they have a different way of thinking and making decisions.
I don't think I made it clear in the post, but this theory is not my own, it was taken from the article I read, I only paraphrased it.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

oysh, I should of made it clearer in the post, it wasn't meant to be a generalization, and the theory was not my own, but rather from the article, I just paraphrased it.
The last paragraph is basically saying, that if a person were to make their own choices and not let others pressure them, then they should be doing the right things. It's usually outside pressure that causes people to sin.
looks like you figured it out at the end?

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Your welcome, anytime!
Glad you like it.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Thanks. True, the middle road would be the best. I suppose sometimes we would rather lean more to one side than the other.

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