This blog makes more sense if I recount a completely uninteresting story first. Please feel free to skip the next paragraph if exposition offends you.
I coasted into the petrol station, fuel gauge redlining and my blood-sugar levels similarly reading E. With myself and the car both fueled up and ready to go, I got back out onto the side street alongside the BP on Warrigal and pulled up beside a car in the right hand lane. He had his left-turn indicator on. But he was in the right-hand lane. I assumed (ass out of you and me, I know) that he was turning left into the centre lane. There was plenty of room for me, so I slid in beside him so that I could turn left and straight onto the freeway entrance. When the left lane cleared, however, he turned straight into me and ripped my front bumper loose on the right side. His car looked fine. We had a few heated words, figured that involving the insurance companies would be too much of a hassle, and went on our way.
A few days ago, I approached my car and started in amazement. The bumper was fixed! I looked closely at it. There was no indication that I’d even banged into the guy. Note that, before this, the bumper of my car was hanging off on one side. The metal had torn loose of the screw holding it in place. I hadn’t bothered getting it fixed because it wasn’t scraping on anything and it looked expensive. And now it was in pristine condition once more.
Who had done this? I immediately thought aliens or angels. These options seemed infinitely more plausible than a Good Samaritan walking past my car with the right tools, thinking “That poor bastard. I should help him out.” and fixing my car, without leaving a note… or a bill.
Aliens, on the other hand, could very well have fixed my car, for their own inscrutable ends. As Rimmer says, they’re alien. They do alien things. And angels, well, presupposing the existence of God, the hierarchy of Heaven, and lackeys with wings and nothing better to do, why not?
Of course, ten seconds later, shaking my head in wonder, I walked to the driver’s side and discovered that the broken bumper was in fact still there. I’d been looking at the wrong side of the car. But it brought up the interesting concept of Secret Samaritans (and aliens. And angels). People who wander around, helping people while they are asleep.
I get an immense feeling of satisfaction from helping people. I’ve volunteered at shelters, cooked sausages at my local mission, assisted little old ladies across the road and given stricken tourists change on the tram. But there is a selfish part of me that gets just as much pleasure from the recognition of these actions.
I am drawn to Matthew 6:1-4. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” If you get the reward of doing good works from the praise you receive, you don’t deserve a reward from Heaven. Which is all well and good for those people who don’t believe in God. I’d like a bit of both though, if you please!
Maybe I should go and do a Secret Samaritan act. See how it feels. I’ll let you know.
Ive always doubted the existence of ‘Alturism’ in its pure sense, because one who performs an alturistic act is rewarded with self fulfillment and other warm-inner-glowy personal benefits.
The concept of Secret Samaritanism much better fits our human nature. It allows the covert act of kindess or charity to afford the Samaritan a level of self satisfaction without the guilt.
I’m all for acts of guiltess pleasure.