Acts of Compassion by Robert Wuthnow

By Robert Wuthnow

Robert Wuthnow reveals that people who are so much fascinated with acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than an individual else--and that people who are the main intensely individualistic are not any much less interested by taking good care of others. Robert Wuthnow reveals that those people who are such a lot concerned with acts of compassion are not any much less individualistic than somebody else--and that those who find themselves the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less enthusiastic about taking care of others.

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Sample text

I might dismiss the importance of my behavior entirely, telling myself that it was simply part of my job, or even that my 44 C A R I N G A N D/F O R O U R S E L V E S dean had asked me to make the visit. I might say to myself, this is a chance to further my career, especially if I can ask the student to put in a good word for me next time I am up for a promotion. I might then beat up on myself, pointing out to my conscience that I am too conniving to have any self-respect at all, or that I am so compulsive about such things that I am driving myself crazy.

Working at the center gives her the variety she likes. Her husband earns enough money for the family, so she is able to do things without pay simply for the enjoyment. “It’s also enabled me to feel good about myself,” she observes. “I’ve become a catch-all here anytime somebody needs something, and that makes me feel real good about myself. I guess that affects my attitude. I feel I don’t really need anyone anymore. ” They need me. I don’t need anyone anymore. Janet Russo seems to typify the kind of volunteer who is involved strictly for herself.

Having a language to describe our motives for caring is one of the ways in which we make compassion possible in the indi49 CHAPTER 3 vidualistic society in which we live. It is not enough simply to “be motivated,” as we say; not enough to find ourselves in some situation that prompts us to engage in an act of kindness. We must also have a way to talk about our motivations. We must have a language that allows us to explain to ourselves and others why we are doing what we do. And in an individualistic society, where caring is sometimes seen as an abnormality, it becomes all the more important to be able to give an account of ourselves.

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