OK, kids, today I’m offering a simple lesson in basic human decency. I know most of you already know all this — I picked up on it when I was a child — but this is the internet, and a few of its resident have been raised by wolves or read too much Ayn Rand as a teenager, and they’ve lost some really basic principles.
When someone is hurting, don’t spit on them because someone else is hurting more. It’s smart and sensible to invest your time and money wisely, and if you see two people in pain, you get to choose which one you’ll help first, and that’s fine. But it’s counterproductive and destructive to dismiss efforts to help the other person, and it’s particularly repellent if you choose to kick at the people who are helping someone you consider a lesser cause to the extent that you aren’t helping anyone at all.
There’s a principle in medicine called triage—look it up. It does not mean “stick a knife in the patient you don’t want to help.”
See? This is so simple. If you see someone donating money to prostate cancer research, don’t berate them because they should donate to breast cancer research instead, because you think it’s a more serious disease. Or vice versa. Both are bad, and it’s good that we have people supporting research into both.
So you’ve decided to help someone — good for you. However, you shouldn’t then advertise your goodness and throw a tantrum if people don’t praise you enough. You especially shouldn’t then retract your offer of assistance because there wasn’t enough love given to you. You aren’t the one in trouble, and the situation isn’t about you at all.
You see, that makes it obvious to everyone that you weren’t offering to help because you’re a good person: the offer was patently a bribe to win good will for yourself, and when you announce your refusal to help you’re really just trying to extort some flattery out of others. This is not good behavior.
I hear a version of this all the time: don’t annoy the Christians with that atheism stuff or they might retract their support for science and science education. Well then, they weren’t really good supporters of science in the first place, were they?
I know, you’re all saying that was really obvious to the point of being stupid, but there are people on the internet who don’t understand these basic concepts. Sad, I know, but don’t get cranky if I occasionally reach out to help the ethically benighted in addition to bashing creationists and that sort of thing. There are many good causes we can all fight for.