Experimental ethics is an area that teaches lessons we may not expect. Some of the lessons make sense. Panhandlers working in front of a bakery are more successful than those next to an open sewer. Our peers affect what we will do. Someone standing around doing nothing makes it less likely someone else will get helped.
Participating in organized charity makes people less charitable — it consumes their general allocation of charitable feelings rather than expanding them. That leads to the question of how to encourage kindness if organized activities are often counterproductive.
Modeling, peer group normalizing, self directed opportunity awareness. These all sound like buzzwords, but they have real meanings, real applications. An example helps.
Dr. Jack McConnell, at dinner would ask his kids what random act of kindness or charity they had done that day. In his own life he modeled charity. He created a family peer group with his children so that they would see charity as normal. His method taught them to look for opportunities.
That daily effort is the sort of act that expands awareness rather than closing it off. The daily report increases reflection and understanding. It is an excellent example of how to do it, how integrate charity as something that we do rather than something that gets in our way.
Of the primary virtues in our lives, can you think of another more essential, one we need more and are more likely to overlook? What have you done today to help others find a way to be something they do rather than something that gets in the way?
Can you think of other paradoxes that you have found a way to overcome?