Do we do good to make ourselves feel good or to genuinely help others? Some people argue we do good because we are told to and if we never had any religion, or laws or conscientious parents we wouldn’t know what is good and bad. So would that mean that “good” is a learned behavior?
When you watch children playing and one of them falls over or gets hurt there are children who can block it out, there are the ones who run over and see if they can help and then there are the ones who were the cause of the fall by pushing or tripping the other child. Are these children a product of their environment or are there some people who are born with more “goodness” than others?
But back to my first point. I remember having a conversation with a close friend of mine who I met when I was studying in London. She’s originally from an American jewish family and had moved to London to work. We were in a restaurant and the waiter we had was SO NICE so we decided to leave him a huge tip. He was a student in London, also from the states, and we figured that a tip would help him out a lot. That started the conversation about doing good. My friend was saying she thinks most people do good because it gives them a reward by making them feel good about themselves and that we are wired that way in order to encourage us to do good. While I was saying we do good for the sake of doing good and to help people, the feeling good is a bonus.
At that time she was not a practicing jew, she was spiritual and believed in a force or power. I am a practicing muslim and have grown up all my life with charity and good deeds being an integral part of our religion. Another integral part is not telling people of the good deeds you do. This makes me think that maybe there is a selfish reason to do good and God knows this therefore He takes away the opportunity to get that selfish reaction and satisfaction by telling us it doesn’t count if we do it for praise.
So my questions are, are we good because we are selfish? and looking at children and how they interact are some of us good by nature or is it all nurture?