Selflessness is nonexistent

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I remember watching an episode of Friends, probably for the fifteenth time. I am obsessed. Phoebe and Joey were having an argument over whether or not there is such a thing as a ‘selfless deed.’ Looking back on that oddly philosophical episode, I have realized that there really is no selfless deed.

Let’s get straight to the point. When someone volunteers at an animal shelter, serves food to the homeless, or any other stereotypical service such as those, what is the reward?

I know many feel that it is the signature from the sheet they get for a certain amount of time spent working, and we all know where that is going. Now, you may get ‘the feeling.’ I know that I have felt this feeling before. It is a sense of pride, happiness, confidence, and so many more great feelings, all wrapped into one. This amazing, not-so-tangible prize is felt by those who do community service or do ‘good deeds,’ whether the feeling is felt consciously or subconsciously.

On the other hand, you may say selfless deeds are legitimate, as it may cause the person to do physical labor or take a toll with them emotionally. The deed could be one that is close to their heart or may cause them to feel negatively. Although, in the end, a sense of satisfaction would ensue, as they would have gotten through that pain or suffering.
In no way am I promoting the idea of everyone stopping their good deeds. If you volunteer at a shelter, kitchen, school, religious facility or anywhere else, do not set down your helping hands. In fact, your help, your picking up trash, serving food, or cleaning could be saving someone’s life. And not only could you be saving someone’s life, your helping hands could be helping you.

I do hope that everyone is aware that it is okay that selfless deeds may not be verifiable. Go through your days helping others in any way possible, whether it has a large impact or a nominal one. It could, as cliche as it sounds, create a ripple effect.

Hopefully, the idea of a mental reward motivates you to go out, volunteer, or help out people around you. It is okay to be somewhat selfish because in the process, you are changing a life for the better.

If Phoebe and Joey weren’t fictional characters, I would thank them in person for their philosophical views. Hopefully, they would feel that amazing feeling; that mental prize.

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About the Writer
Sam Barney-Gibbs, Ombudsman

Sam Barney-Gibbs is a junior at Oak Park High School. He is currently the 2018-19 Ombudsman.

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