Why I hate some supposedly wise sayings: Paradise points are not a reason to help!

In my part of the world, every advice seems to be followed by some supposedly wise sayings. African societies have rich collections of very good 1000003_10151996190466873_26189186_nproverbs, but those proverbs are being relegated to the background in favour of some suspiciously evangelical ‘wise’ sayings.

These supposedly ‘wise’ sayings do get on my nerves. Some of these sayings are so common that I am beginning to think perhaps people just say those things from force of habit, without actually thinking them through.

In particular, I hate ‘wise’ sayings that attach a reason to why we need to help others. For example:

  • “Be nice to people on your way up, because you might meet them on your way down”
  • “You don’t know what this person would be tomorrow, be nice to them today”
  • “Help someone because that is what God wants good believers to do”

Do we really need a reason before we extend a helping hand to someone in need?

Must we have a reason that benefits us before we are convinced to help others?

Can’t we just help someone because it is the HUMANE thing to do?

You don’t need to offer to help someone because you think they might be of help to you tomorrow. Even if there was a crystal ball that clearly showed that the person you are about to help will never be in a position to reciprocate your help, help them anyway.

Help, not out of fear or for hope of a reward.

You don’t need to help just because God told you to.

You don’t need to help because you fear you will be tossed into hell-fire if you didn’t.

You don’t need to help because you hope for a reward of paradise points.

You don’t need a reason before you extend a helping hand to anyone.

You don’t need a reason to help someone that is down to get back on their feet.

You don’t need a reason to be HUMANE.

These supposedly ‘wise’ sayings just end up perpetuating the impression that we should only help others if we stand to gain something from the1383893_10151890743424780_1667185069_n action. Helping anyone because of expectation of personal gains does not make us better persons. It does not build or encourage a selfless society.

Extending a helping hand to people should not be about rewards, rewards, rewards. Words matter, language matter. They help to build characters. We should use words and language that encourages selflessness because that is a way selflessness can be a force of habit.


  1. says

    Yes! This is what I’ve telling so many people most of my life, and long before I came out of the Atheist Closet! It’s not about doing good because you’re faith tells you to, or out of fear, or in the hopes of someone returning the favour at some later point when you find yourself in need. It’s not even about making you feel good about yourself.

    It’s about helping, if you can, because you can! We are all just people and everyone needs some kind of help at least once in their life. No matter how rich or poor, how healthy or sick, everyone can help at least one other person or animal.

    Even just letting someone pour their guts outs when the feel their life is crashing down around them -- even it truly is -- that small act of kindness and humanity, can make a difference.

    Life is hard. We do need to support each other. The key to being human *is* to be humane!

    Thank you, Yesimi. Very well said! And timely too. ☺

  2. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @wordsgood- You are welcome and you are right. Making time to sincerely listen to someone pour their heart out when their world seems to be falling down could save a life. Helping someone should not be about what we can gain or get out of it, it isn’t about us, it is about the person in need.

  3. Meggamat says

    Man aught to hold God to the standard he holds his fellow man. Right and wrong exist independent of God’s decrees, assuming he exists at all. Do what is right, and demand no less from God, if indeed he reveals himself to exist.

  4. bigwhale says

    Reminds me of how economic policy like providing everyone with a basic income and healthcare can be debated about how it will effect the budget. And there are projections going both ways. (Personally I think it is good policy in the long run) But even if we are unsure, isn’t it just the humane thing to do?

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