Giving is… costly.
My knowledge on economics boils down to the concept of opportunity cost. Each decision is accompanied by a choice that was not taken - when my sister chooses a hamburger over salad, she is missing out on better arterial blood flow but gains a muffin-top made of lard over her jeans. Or, in the case of this picture, when I chose to scream and cry in agony, I did not choose to beat the living crap out of my brother, and in turn, he gained sadistic enjoyment. The choices we make come at the price of gaining/losing comfort, convenience, time, finances, and/or services.
Similarly, my knowledge on the human condition amounts to the fact that we are all selfish beings. This may rub some of us the wrong way, but every choice we make over the other is based upon self-satisfaction – why I chose a cash-rewards credit card over a points-based credit card, why I choose to take a cab over saving 10 dollars and taking the subway, why I will choose one unfortunate male to be my boyfriend over another. The decisions we make are founded upon selfish ambition.
So, if the thousands of choices made everyday are chosen according to an individual’s happiness, then is charity possible?
When I visit home after being away for months at a time, my mom spends hours in the kitchen making me my favorite meal only to sit next to me and watch me eat her food. I always thought that was bizarre and thought it was something I would acquire when I became a mother. But, what I have come to realize is that my mom’s joy in giving comes from participating in my contentment. And that is the true essence of giving:
it is only when we realize that our pleasure, our enjoyment, our welfare is deeply contingent on the pleasure, the enjoyment, the welfare of another that selfish decisions can become a little selfless.