What compels you to help others?

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Kestrel

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Anyone on the interwebz long enough has been subject to 'faith in humanity restored' kinda posts. Sure, there's a lot wrong in the world, but there's always those bits that give our species hope. In venue of that, and possibly the holiday season, I want to ask Iwaku what compels you, personally, to help others. Examples and stories are also most welcome.
 

Brovo

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A strange question. I don't really have any compulsion to help strangers, and you know why, Kestrel. :ferret: Regardless, I try anyway. I aim to be as good a person as I can be. That means being compassionate, and kind, even when I don't really feel like it.

Though, people I care for, people who have managed to worm their way past my personal defenses in some way? Those people I'll care deeply for and will willingly surrender great amounts of my personal time and even wealth and health doing whatever I can to make them better. Not to the level of impoverishing myself or sending myself to the hospital, but sufficiently so that I can always be there when someone I love needs me the most. Like for @Seba I gladly help her through anxiety issues, and sometimes stay up late just so she won't fall asleep alone.
 

Jorick

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Fantasy is my #1; I will give almost anything a chance if it has strong fantasy elements. Post apocalyptic, superhero, alternate history, science fantasy, some supernatural, romance, and a few fandoms (especially Game of Thrones) are also likely to catch my eye.
The motivation to help people is a funny and complicated thing in my mind. On one level there's the basic logical assessment of the morality of a given situation, which inevitably says helping someone (as long as it's not to help them do harm to themselves or others) is always going to be a neutral or good thing, therefore it's the right thing to do if you care about being a good person. Then for a lot of situations there's a little voice in there that says "meh, whatever, it's only a couple dollars/minutes, not a huge investment, I can afford to help 'em this once." Oh, and of course there's also the thought of "they'll owe me one" or similar thoughts of reciprocity. It's almost never a matter of compassion or whatnot because I'm bad at empathy, just that basic logical assessment plus considerations of convenience and reciprocity.

For a specific example, the little convenience store on the corner near my house frequently has homeless people just kinda hang out in front of the store. The people who own it allow this because of their own desire to help people I guess. It rains a lot here in Portland and the front of the store has a nice big overhang, so it gives them some protection from the rain. Generally they're only around after it gets dark out and leave before full daylight, so thanks to my graveyard shift work schedule I often pass by them when I head in there on my way to work or on my days off when I feel like grabbing a drink or snack or whatever. Whenever I have a decent amount of spare money and there are homeless people hanging out there, I'll ask them if they want some pizza (the store is a 7/11, has a hot food section that includes pizza, $1 a slice or $5.55 for a whole 8 slice pizza), and more often than not they'll say yes. Depending on how many are out there I'll either buy a couple pieces or just a whole pizza for them because fuck it, it's not that much money and it's helping them out in a way that can't be used to fuel drug or alcohol addictions, so why not.
 

Diana

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I grew up in a terrible environment. D: Lots of not-good things from poverty to abuse. But there were always people that would do little things for me. My childhood bestie would take me with her on her family holidays. Friends at school would share their lunch or buy lunch for me. Neighbors would bring us bags of old clothes. I remember one time these ladies from mom's Kingdom Hall (Jehovah's witness church!) came over and cleaned out entire apartment while my brother was in the hospital. That was a pretty big deal cause mom is a hoarder. @____@ And then when I got on the internet I met even more generous people. Ones that gave me advice and taught me how to adult or just talked to me to get me through crap. People that helped me with gifts or with monies to pay for stuff I needed.

Without those wonderful people I doubt I would be alive right now. O__O They were shiny sparkles during some really nasty periods of my life. So I make sure to be as sparklie as I can, when I can, for others. Because small gestures of kindness add up over time. And bigger gestures can help change someone's life. I always smile at strangers, we treat our servers nice and give good tips, we donate to our local firemen and cops, we donate old stuff we dun use anymore. We've been the crashing place for friends and family when they need a place to hide or a temp place to live. We've given money to friends when they had trouble with their bills. I send people stuff when they need a pickup or a little extra help. I feed WAY TOO MANY CATS.

It is the circle of sparkles!
 

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I'm a huge pushover. I always say that I'm not going to do something, like answer people when they approach me to ask a question, or give someone change when they ask for it, but I always do. I have a horrible time saying no to anyone. I generally only help people willingly if I can see that they're going through a really hard time, if they're really hold, disabled, or they have children.
 

Darog

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Da puseey.
 
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Honestly, I don't know.

I've always been kind, even soft-hearted. I'm compassionate to a fault, and I take people at their word more often than not. I got a good bullshit detector, but I want to hear people's story as true as so bad sometimes, that I ignore it. I want to save people sometimes, even if they don't need saving, or I'm not in a position to do any rescuing.

It's a compulsion. I don't know where it comes from. Probably some fucked up facet in which I was raised. Bleh!

But, I can't not help a person that asks me for help. Even if I hate their guts, if they come to me, I do my best to the maximum breadth of my ability and power to do what I can to help. Which is weird, considering how much I hate all of you people...
 
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Alan

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I've always been someone who enjoys helping others... unless I'm given a reason to give no fucks. I refuse to go out of my way to help someone who will only turn around and stab me for my effort. Otherwise, I am more than happy to oblige. Always have been, always will be.
 

K3l

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If I look like an angel sent from the heavens then I may as well act as one. That's my logic.
 
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Windsong

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Nothing compels me. I either do or I don't.

Then again. I'm far less hesitant to help an animal over a human any day. Turtles on the road are going to get me killed.
 

Shadon Xarian

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I mostly find it fun.

People have real interesting troubles weather it be debt, having issues with their significant other, just small things like helping moving kinda heavy things (Or really heavy things) Even capturing insects like spiders/moths and putting them outside is fun.
Though some are REALLY a pain. Ants for example when I get them off cups so they don't die in the dishwasher, They're beginning to realize I don't kill them and don't react much to me anymore, which is interesting considering it should be different ants each time. (And no, I don't have very many ants in my house, it's a VERY occasional thing, mainly when I get lazy which happens very rarely.



Of course it's not just fun, that's just a bonus. Whenever someone doesn't take my help and gets screwed for it, sure i'll say "I told you so" but it annoys/pisses me off internally as they COULD have had it better, but chose the bad ending. I truly do want the best for everyone, but some people just don't take the correct action.

Also comes down to drama at times. I LOVE drama. And when someone has a problem, then there's also drama attached. Some peoples stories are quite funny, and I enjoy hearing them. But I also enjoy finding solutions. Which is probably why I like it so much, I like finding the most proficient solution to a problem.
 
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LogicfromLogic

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Because if I'm in a bad situation, sometimes all I have to hope on to help me is strangers. Best to help others to keep that chain moving.
 
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Kestrel

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Might as well answer my own question.

When I was younger, I was highly empathic. I would feel the emotions of others as my own and I devoted quite a bit of my time and person to others their problems. You know, teenage stuff, like bullying, heartbreak, physical abuse, arrests, going homeless and suicide attempts. Eventually, the pressure built up to a point where it just flipped the giving-a-fuck-switch. It made me cynical, selfish and more curious than sympathetic when it came to others. Went great along with puberty it did, I only had a very small circle of friends, kicked against anything symbolising authority and had a grand time provoking people. That empathic ability didn't go away, but my ability to sympathise had weakened. To this day I can spin lies and expertly press buttons like it's second nature. Not really the skills I'm most proud to possess, but in a way I they're souvenirs.

Over time and through great love and devotion of a few very important people in my life I've been allowed to open myself up and get to know myself better. Not to mention a fucking awesome year of backpacking in New Zealand. Actually, that was a big part of it, where I was disconnected from all of the context that previously defined me. I obtained an ultimate freedom, I was challenged by it and had nowhere to hide, but because of exactly that I saw sights with my very own eyes because I took initiative to do so. Sights I previously thought only existed by the courtesy of photoshop. I approached others and met friends who within a day would treat me as family. There was such great unity between people from all over the world. I really don't want to call it soul-searching because that is frankly a cliché I hate to associate with, but in all honesty? It was exactly that. It's kind of an awe you have to experience. You know how that annoying facebook friend that always brags how in awe he is of the greatness of all the places he's been to? Well. It's kind of like that.

I had a conversation with Brovo about this earlier and I'ma steal his metaphor of society being a machine. A machine that in many ways benefits the individual. This awe I experienced, the love and kindness I've been given, the challenges I've overcome and the context-less me I've been confronted with, gave me an understanding of how good and beneficial this machine can be. For both myself and others. I, as a person, am a cog in this machine (man, I'm sorry but I hate this metaphor already.) I am responsible for my part to make this machine work. If I extend kindness, I motivate other cogs to spin as well. Everybody wins. I mean, it worked for me. My giving-a-fuck-switch is still pretty weird and I've gotten a lot better at self-preservation, but generally, that's the gist of my story. I feel responsible in terms of at least small gestures. A couple minutes or a small sum of money can mean a lot. Even if I do marketing things (shut up,) when I generally look back at my actions in recent years, the overall impact has been decidedly positive.
 
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Really I think it just depends on my mood and the situation. Sometimes I'll go out of my way to help out another, and sometimes I will not. I find myself to be more giving with my friends, because I personally believe that caring and helping your friends when they need it most is something a friend does. With strangers though? It's completely different.

Just today, I was driving down the road on my way to deposit a three checks. I'm in the left lane, and I glance to my right and see a homeless military man with nothing but a drawstring napsack walking down the side walk drenched by the rain. I kid you not, I think I died a little bit on the inside. My heart literally broke watching him aimlessly walk down the side walk with out an umbrella. I felt compelled to pull over and ask him if he needed a ride, or wanted my umbrella. I didn't stop though, mostly out of my own fear of the unknown. Sure he is dressed in military uniform, but that doesnt mean he is what he appears to be. I was also three lanes away, and approaching a stop light. Regardless it would have been impossible for me to drive across three lanes with the on coming traffic and make sure this military man got what he needed.

and to be honest I felt like shit for not being able to do anything about it. :T

A couple weeks ago, on a chilly day, I had to stop at walgreens to get a new hair brush and some other things. You know those salvation army Santa Claus that stand infront of stores with a little bell? Yeah....one of them was there that day. Normally I would donate a dollar or two to the cause, but I'm a college student and practically struggling financially as it is. Plus I actually didn't have any money in my wallet to give. Then I had to suffer through the whole awkward conversation where they try to talk to you, and then you feel bad for being a piece of shit that didn't donate. >.>;

Sometimes there are days where everything is in order and I actually do some good. I was dog sitting at this woman's house for an entire week, and I had to stop by the grocery store to stock up on food that I needed that week. Well there was this elderly woman standing out front asking for change. Literally all she was asking for was a quarter, and I was like "You know what. Let me go buy my shiz, and if I get change back I'll give it to you." Sure enough I had a whole dollar in change, and I gave all of it to her. Then I walked down the shopping district to stop by another store, and when I walked back to my car the lady was gone. So it felt pretty good to be able to help someone get what they need. -w-
 
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Hellis

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Becouse, if I don't, what kind of message do I send? Apathy is rampant, fear and hate mongering is everywhere. We have a duty as human beings to help our fellow man. Others have helped me, talked to me when I was down, helped me trough anxiety, even lent money without ever expecting to get it back. Altruism and compassion are core things that make us human. It's when we abandon these things things get ugly. Its when we seperate and lose sight of our own and others humanity things get nasty. I honestly believe it without small acts of kindness, and without going out of our way to help others, our society will collapse sooner or later.



Only trough jolly cooperation shall we succeed! PRAISE THE SUN!
 
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Gwazi Magnum

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Personally I don't think there's any long story for it.

If there is it's something I've pushed out of memory, specifically because growing up generally I found the kinds of people who go around with a big or sad story about why they are good are also the kinds of people who treat me as the exception to the rule and give me the shaft. Meanwhile the people who lack such stories or backgrounds (or at least don't talk about it) tend to be the ones who are nice and decent towards me. So I might have just unconciously pushed out whatever history/reasoning makes me do it.

So to that extent, as far as I know I'm just nice to people because it feels like the right thing to do.
If I close my eyes and imagine someone suffering, it usually isn't something I can stomach, I just flat out don't like seeing other people suffer.
I might be able to 'turn it off' temporarily if watching something like a documentary where I'm learning about the pain of others in order to better understand it.
But that's the extent of it, if someone suffers I'm usually trying to help them, even if I'm realistically powerless to do so.
 

Lea

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Pure impulse I suppose. Honestly, mankind has fallen so long ago in my eyes that I wouldn't even hesitate to kill anyone of you if you threatened to erase the teeny bit of humanity that still remains. Despite all that, my body has a tendency of acting on its own when someone is in trouble. I guess it's probably because of the fact that I am not like you people(Not you specifically but you as well xD) and as such, I attempt to shave off my humanity with my pure hearted deeds in an effort to restore the good back to this world. I'm not implying that I'm perfect in any way or boast more light than the average person but what I will say is this. The amount of people that I see each and every day that give up on their dreams or become to centered around achieving their dreams that they would do anything makes me sick. As such, I've made it my mission to show those people the error of their ways while trying to achieve my goals at the same time. ...yeah but it's probably that and pure impulse xD
 

Oblivion666

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Can't say I know why I do, maybe I'm just too nice for my own good. I once drove a homeless man to this place thirty miles away, was I scared? Yes I was very much so afraid, but I just did. I can't explain it, I just helped him. Do I know if hes okay to this day? No, but I like to think he is. Also people its not wise to just give rides to every homeless person that asks. I felt I could in my case cause well he waited like four hours before asking me. Still though what i did was dangerous, kind it was but dangerous.
 

Marchosias

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"Dont ask for help, help yorself first and fore-most. Then people wil be more likely to help you too."

Something my grand-mother loved to say, that stayed vith me since I vas a kid. I loved her so much, vas crushed, literaly, vhen she passed a year ago. Culdnt stop crying for a vhole day, despite the fact I never cry. Such a inspirational, strong, decisive, independent woman, yet caring at the same time. Unlike my weakling mother, and my piece of shit abusive excuse for a father, before I finaly dealt vith the fuckhead permanetly. I hope to be half as strong as her someday, but I like to think I'm geting there.

Aniway back to topic. I'v seen my grand-mother's saying proven true, over, and over, and over again. Not just for me, but for ppl around me too. Despite the pretense of civilization and all, the world is esentialy one big, savage jungle. The strong/resolute rise above, the weak/meek stay that vay all ther life, no matter how much help they might get. All it does is help them stay "afloat", surviving, day to day, vegetating in mizery, until they die. So vhats the point in helping them? Say, for instanse, a beggar on the street. Not disabled, not infirm, perfectly healthy mid-aged person, vho has given up. Literaly surviving on the scraps the others deign to give him, and pittance social welfare. Vhat kind of life is that? Oh sure, I can drop some money in his hat, but vhat the fuck for? The next day, he'l be there at the same spot, cadging for more. after he blows it all up on booze/vhat-ever. Waste of efort, I may as wel throw the money in a sewer and save time. If I ask him vhy he dont get a job, he says he simply cant. Oh realy? I'm not buying it. Advertizer-pages in the papers are FULL of part-time job ofers, and this pathetic loser tells me he cant get a job? Fuck him. Point is, hes a total waste of space, surviving on social-welfare and begging, and a burden on my countrys economy, and I'm not going to suport his uselesness. I strugled to get by myself, on more then 1 ocasion, but I always managed. Help yorself first and fore-most.

So, resume - I'l only help people if I see them trying to help themselvs, and just need a litle "boost" in that direction. And I did that a couple times (not just financialy). But if they arent trying, and fighting, I wont bother. I dont respect weakness, I respect strength/resolve.
 
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