by Ryan Matsumoto
Is it really better to give than to receive? Better for whom? The giver? Sooooo, the giver is actually receiving something that is better? So the giver is actually a receiver too? Doesn’t “better” in this context imply that it is better for the giver to receive the benefits that come from giving rather than the benefits that come from simply receiving? which is really to say, it is better to receive by giving, rather than receive by receiving:I got to see the smile on a child’s face when he opened my Christmas gift,or,I enjoyed helping the old lady cross the street even though she smelled like soup. Even though you are indeed giving the gift, or giving the help, you are really driven by the thing you are receiving (or think you will receive) from the giving (e.g. the joy of giving).So essentially, it is two types of receiving that we’re really comparing. Perhaps, if the child’s smile made you sick, or instead of enjoyment for helping the old lady you received a rash, giving might start to lose its appeal, or dare I say, become worse than receiving, reversing the saying to “It’s better to receive than to give”. Oh I don’t know how you would get a rash from helping an old lady cross the street, but it’s hypothetical asshole. Ooh, I just thought of a way, never mind. Now you might say, “Hold on buckaroo (especially if you were a cowboy, or a Japanese surfer with a really bad version of a Japanese to English “Hip surfer slang phrases of the Pacific Rim” translation book), even when giving becomes difficult, I still give—hell, I’m married!” And I’m sure that’s true: marriage is hell. haha. Just playing. Not really. Anyway, stick with me. Yes, people still give even when it causes them pain. So, it must be that they are giving for the sake of giving right? Not really. They are still giving to receive. If people give despite the pain, it’s only because they’ve considered alternate paths, and after careful cost-benefit analysis, or not-so-careful, they try to decide the least painful route overall. And instead of recalculating every decision for every instance, people make up systems of thought: philosophies, creeds, manifestos, rules, guidelines, and ultimately, personalities–which can apply instinctively and generally to a lot of situations, essentially, for maximum self gain. The systems of thought help cut down on the processing effort of having to make your mind up on every little thing.
We are constantly creating ourselves.We are our own immaculate conception.We painfully carve bad habits out of our brain, with self-loathing butter knives, hoping that someday it will be a beautiful sculpture of pain avoiding perfection.We love irony apparently.We create egos, which we think will afford us the highest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain for life—you know, selfishness. Control the ego, make sure it’s well rounded: nice guy or nice girl, smart, happy, wise, funny, reliable, fearless, trustworthy, strong values, uncompromising, giving, thoughtful, yada yada yada– and you will also control that bottom line of pain and pleasure for your self.assumption: well-rounded individuals with these type of characteristics tend to have a better time in life.Ticket price to get into society’s game: be giving and shit.Reward: you get to play with others who will help you to be selfish.“Unconditional giving” benefits the collective more than the individual–for there is always that point of diminishing returns. In other words, there is always a condition, upon which we give, and that condition can be measured against its cost. And we are doing this cost-benefit analysis constantly, involuntarily even—it’s just that most of us suck at it. So we end up paying more than we have to for the happiness we seek. People have forgotten that the root of our desire to be “giving” was born straight out of the womb of selfishness.Receiving the best benefit is always the concern of any giver or receiver any way you cut it.
“Ok Mr. smarty pants, what about when someone takes a bullet for someone else? How can that possibly be an example of the giver being concerned about receiving the best benefit? Obviously, death is not the best benefit as far as most people are concerned. You must admit that this is probably an example of someone giving unconditionally.”
Nope. I still think that the giver, which in this instance is giving their life for someone else, is still concerned about what they’re going to receive for giving their life, and that concern is what drives their decision (not that that person will receive something necessarily equal to or worth more than that thing which they gave, but I guess that’s my point—the profit margin of a particular act of giving is irrelevant to how selfish the act is). translation: getting nothing for something always gets you something. even if that something sucks.Essentially, the term selfish in this context is specifically referring to intention as opposed to outcome, and that is why to confuse the two, is logical suicide. How little or how much someone actually receives for their giving is irrelevant to the amount of selfishness involved—it is more of a question of—which reason, among the reasons for giving, is the driving reason, the nucleus reason, without which, the act of giving itself would collapse? Like any good argument: Find the underlying assumption of the opposing argument on which it rests, destroy it, and ipso facto destroy the argument.That is the first time I’ve ever used ipso facto.
“Ipso facto is a Latin phrase, which means that a certain effect is a direct consequence of the action in question, instead of being brought about by a subsequent action”–wikipedia
I think the most user friendly confusion that seems to find its way into everyone’s philosophical inbox like a mass e-mail from Zafutu, the sole heir to the throne of Nigeria, requesting your assistance in laundering 4.5 billion dollars, which, without your help would otherwise be inaccessible, is this retarded notion that selfishness can be gaged by the apparent amount of x (whatever) actually received by the giver:retarded notion: The less received by the giver, the more selfless the giver.This apparent lack of investment savvy gains us unwarranted selfless points:
Oh my god, he just gave us his leftover chicken without any expectation of something in return—how selfless.
My point: There’s always expectation—even though that expectation is sometimes only visible with the infrared capabilities that come with brutal scrutiny.
I don’t receive anything from my grandma. Trust me. The whole relationship is based on my taking care of her. There’s absolutely nothing in it for me. All I do is give. I give my time, my money and sometimes my tears because it’s so painful to see her in pain. But I still give. What the hell are you talking about, Mr. Way-too-many –‘s and :’s and italics and (parenthesis) (and) (unnecessary) (ands) mother fucker?
You are still receiving the benefit of fulfilling your idea of what a person should be like–The kind of person who takes care of their grandma regardless of apparent reward (“apparent” being the operative word here). But then again, what else are you supposed to do–you selfless saint (sarcasm sarcasm sarcasm), leave your grandma to her helpless state? Doesn’t that route also have its negative elements?”What a selfish not-taking-care-of-his-grandma asshole he is!” she muttered somewhat under her breath while erasing his # from her Blackberry.
Don’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back Mr. grandma care taker, there’s always a selfish reason lurking behind that lame curtain of pseudo-selflessness you display like the wizard of OZ:
enter toto, stageright.
Moreover, those ideas of what a person should be like will be based on what kind of person you think would most likely succeed in your particular environment.But once again, it is still receiving that you are giving for.
Everyone does everything in an attempt to better his or her situation.And here’s the checkmate:Every attempt to refute this axiom seems to confirm it:I have chosen for my life to be selfless so that I can live in a better…wait, shit. Ok, I want to be an unconditionally giving person because it just feels way better to…dammit!!! Ok here– I don’t necessarily want to always choose the selfless route, but I try choose it anyway, to help others…and overall I have decided that that is the best way for me to be…ARGGHHHHH!!!! In other words, you’ve chosen, as your best strategy for self-gaining, the strategy of “being a giving person”.People tend to like you more. you feel better about yourself. you’re more likely to get employed by more companies who tend to like team players.Being a giving person is just a price that you’ve decided is worth paying for the overall selfish gain of living most happily in this world.From Mother Teresa to Hitler, from Jesus to Dr. Phil, everyone—equally selfish.The real question, once properly untangled from its popularly confused yet genetically inferior adopted question brother is this:which 100% selfish strategy will be the most effective in actually gaining for self?For it seems that we are enslaved to that 100% selfish state. All questions of “whether or not I am selfish” should be upgraded to “Being that we are all 100% equally selfish, how then shall I best be selfish?” And therein lies many complex possibilities, one of which may include—giving presents at Christmas time!So if this is what’s really going on, then I say, it is better to give than to receive sometimes, but better to receive than give at other times. If it were simply as the saying seems to imply, that giving is always better than receiving, then wouldn’t that necessarily mean that you, the giver, are subjecting the one you are giving to, the receiver, to the lesser of the two experiences, depriving them of the “better” benefits of giving—you selfish bastard!