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November 9th, 2010


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02:21 am - A Preference For People With A Sense of Responsibility
As I've mentioned before, I have absolutely no belief that I owe the world anything, nor do I have anything remotely like a drive to make the world a better place. I would like everyone on the planet to have a happy life, and I attempt to avoid doing things that hurt people, including people I don't know, but I largely focus on making myself and the people I care about happy and don't spend much in the way of time or effort on the rest of the world – I'm essentially fairly lazy and am not willing to devote more than a trivial amount of effort to anything beyond my own happiness and the happiness of people I'm close to.

However, in talking with teaotter a couple of days, I realized something quite odd - everyone I care about deeply (around half a dozen people), and most of my close friends have a fairly strong sense of responsibility to the world. The intensity of this varies from person to person, but most have it fairly strongly. I have absolutely no idea why I only seem to become close to such people – I'm quite pleased that I feel no need to make the world a better place, since such a feeling would undoubtedly get in the way of the things that do concern me.

I only become close to people with very similar politics and tastes to my one – geeky, queer or queer friendly, far left, SF&F fans is a good description of everyone I'm at all close to and the majority (as well as everyone I love) is also pagan and a gamer. However, in terms of a general sense of responsibility to the world I only seem to become close to people quite different from myself – most puzzling. Becca's suggestion that it makes me happy to see other people making the world a better place may be correct, but it's still not something that I at all expected.
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:alobar
Date:November 9th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
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I am guessing you were never much of a fan of the philosophy on the labels of Dr. Bronner's soap bottles.



I sure have no proof of reincarnation. But I accept it as a possibility. So I want to work to make the world a better place, just in case I will be coming back this way next lifetime.

For me, my altruism is a matter of vested self-interest.

[User Picture]
From:slothman
Date:November 9th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Do you vote? How much effort do you put into figuring out the right choice in voting, and keeping up on the relevant issues? That’s a nontrivial effort right there...
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 9th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
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I'm not certain that I'd call anything that requires no more than an hour or two of effort every couple of years to be non-trivial. Oregon has a fair number of ballot measure, but most are either obviously terrible ideas or obviously good ones, and so research little research is needed.
[User Picture]
From:slothman
Date:November 9th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
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All that time you spend following politics is research. If you really didn’t care, you could change the channel or click to a different web site. (Unless you actually enjoy it, I suppose; I follow the mess because I want to be part of cleaning it up and making to go away so I can go work on cool technology and games. But I’d be delighted if I could automate the process so I could focus on something more creative...)
[User Picture]
From:lupagreenwolf
Date:November 9th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
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You care. You just care in a very focused fashion compared to most people.
[User Picture]
From:china_shop
Date:November 9th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
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What I find more surprising about this scenario is that all those people choose to be close to you, since in general, people who are trying to change the world tend to hang out with same. I suspect the support you provide to those people is something they need to keep doing what they do, and thus you are making the world a better place, one degree removed. /random pre-breakfast theory

:-)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 9th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
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I suspect the support you provide to those people is something they need to keep doing what they do, and thus you are making the world a better place, one degree removed.

Very possibly. I know that I am very good indeed at taking care of the people that I care about. The fact that I love to cook and am very good at it also helps :)
[User Picture]
From:shirtlifterbear
Date:November 10th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
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You could also be grooving on the Altruism vibes, kind of like a contact high.

"I hang with cool-ass people, and I dig it!"
[User Picture]
From:alephnul
Date:November 10th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
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I think that most of the people you care about that I also know seem to care about the world changing for the better, and strongly prefer that their activities serve that goal rather than preventing that goal, which you very clearly do too (would you write for a StormFront backed roleplaying game company? I doubt it), but most of them are not devoting huge a amounts of time and energy to making that change happen in any particularly obvious way (they aren't Movement people, they aren't activists). Maybe I'm mistaken, or I'm missing some key people you are thinking of, but except for a devotion to enlightened selfishness, your degree of concern with and involvement in changing the world doesn't seem much different from the people around you. Do you feel like your gaming writing serves a positive social purpose (as opposed to a negative one)? Would it make you happy if it did serve a positive purpose? I think your answers to those questions are "yes," and I think that is not that different from those around you.

I think the difference is that you (admirably) reject guilt, frustration, and any of the other negative feeling that most of us get from not doing enough, from not being able to make more change faster.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 10th, 2010 07:59 am (UTC)
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There's more to changing the world than activism - a significant part of Alice's motivation to become a doctor is to help people, just as that's also much of Aaron's motivation to become a writing teacher, or my dear friend Jade's plan to become a counselor. Some people I care about it have it as a value but don't do much about it, but a number of them are working on trying to help people and make the world a better place.

I think my gaming serves some social purpose, but that's a useful side benefit and nothing central to it.
[User Picture]
From:alephnul
Date:November 10th, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)
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I distinguish trying to help people and trying to make the world a better place as fairly different things. In terms of helping people, you do seem to keep your focus very tight to just those you love, which is a difference from most people around you.

It seems to me that most people (at least most politically or socially aware people) want either to help people or to make the world a better place, so I think it might be that it is more that you are unusual in being comfortable in not wanting either of those things than the people you love are exceptional in wanting those things.
[User Picture]
From:rjgrady
Date:November 12th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
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My dear John, there is nothing insignificant about a great love for a portion of the world which happens to be small in scale.

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