Math Buddha's Blather

Uh, I don't know, just read it and see for yourself.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Someone asked me to define my concept of Charity, and I figured it would make a good blog post. My concept of Charity arises mostly from my concept of Respect, so I'll start there. Respect to me is when you don't assume that someone needs your help. When you don't assume that you know more or know better. When you talk to someone with a stutter and you hold yourself back from finishing their sentences, that's Respect.

Now Respect is just fine, and it seems to me that a measure of Respect is the only valid foundation for humane fellowship, but I eventually realized that something else is necessary. For example, if someone has just failed a test, and you know that they hadn't studied, Respect would demand that you tell them it was their own fault. I decided that Respect had to be moderated by something, some basis for kindness or generosity. I decided to call it Charity.

If I were to define them topologically, I would say that Respect is closed, in that it contains all of its limit points, while Charity is open, meaning that every point is interior. In other words, it's really easy to see where Respect begins and ends, but Charity is much more vague. Respect is hard, where Charity is soft. If a man in a bank yells at a teller for dropping some change, it isn't very respectful to think to yourself "He's just having a bad day.", because you assume that he's not strong enough to overcome whatever's bothering him without getting flustered, but it is charitable.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but like I said, Charity isn't easy to pin down.


At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It made some sense to me. I find your notion of Charity a lot easier to understand and to put into operation than Respect, and now I realize that I should think twice before assuming that someone needs help (that would be my usual reaction).

But, trying to find a little more, I'm going to ask for a practical example. Let's see: if someone tells you that he has a problem, but doesn’t explicitly ask for your help, then what do you think that comes first, Charity (namely, asking if you could do something for him) or Respect (not asking, and assuming that he would be able to solve his problem on his own)?

Now that I re-read, probably your concept of Respect includes believing that, if he does need help, he will ask for it.

Thanks for the post ^_^

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Big-Bold-D said...

It's not a question that can be answered hypothetically. Either response would be justified, it's something each person has to work out for themselves. I'd say that as long as you Charity was Respectful, or Your Respect Charitable, you'd be correct either way. How's that for confusing?

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It couldn't be any greater xD
I suppose morals can't be discussed hypothetically because any situation (and any person) is one and only, and nothing (beware: more obviousness ahead) is black or white.
What a pity :(

(sorry, it's 23:51 :p)

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my practical application for respect: "I lost a lot of respect for my classmate when he said he didn't know who Neil Young is. I lost what was left when he played a clip of 'Heart of Gold' and still didn't know who he is."

Oh wait--maybe that's Judgemental.

I'm just glad to see you post again. I've actually added a couple posts to mine in the past month. I may post again.

Looking forward to your party too, although I'm celebrating it as a Bastille Day party. Viva la revalucion!--AT

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Respect to me is when you don't assume that someone needs your help."

And here I was, assuming that I was the only one who saw it this way. I feel most see "respect" as "worship" and act oppositely to your definition.

Oh, hello, this is me, blog-stalking you.

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You found your post. Hurray! Either that or my computer just freaked out and made it temporarily disappear (although I did check twice before.)

And Happy Birthday!

At 1:53 AM, Blogger Magnus Greel said...

"You have to dig a hole to China. Where do you start?
China. Duh."


You seem to have lost interest in your blog. Too bad, I was just getting interested. As for "respect", I think it has to be factored in what the other person may or may not consider a gesture of respect. A smart sensible person might see an act as disrespectful that you might see as very respectful, and might not ever have thought of this act in your way. If I had a stutter, I can imagine great relief if someone were to guess my meaning correctly, and save me the trouble of finishing a difficult and unnecessary sentence.


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