Sunday, July 3, 2005

Something for Nothing

That's right - when was the last time you did something for nothing? In fact, when was the last time I did something for nothing? We're all the same - humans - who wouldn't even think of doing something for nothing.

It dawned heavily upon me on Friday afternoon, in one of my classes. I was in the midst of explaining about an in-class activity which required the students to do some research on a given topic, then give a presentation on the information they obtained, when one guy objected to it, and rather strongly too. And why - because this "activity" will not be graded, it will not carry any marks. He was rambling on and on about why I would want to make them do something that does not carry any marks, and a hundred and one reasons why I should give marks for their efforts. Well, it seemed to me that he had quite forgotten the fact that he was enrolled in a franchise program, and what they were doing in the university which offered the program, we have to do exactly the same here (the lecturer at the university in the UK in fact, did confirm that his students had been doing this activity all along, it carrying no marks and all). It was no point explaining this to him, because, after I did, he still went on and on about the uselessness of this activity, and how the students will not gain anything (he means only marks) from participating and everything in that line, until the others were rolling their eyes back and were laughing. Probably he just can't accept the meaning of "franchise", or he could be one of those who would rather die than do something for nothing. (In the case of the research-and-present activity, he could actually gain experience, skills and knowlege in the end, but I guess he was only looking for marks)

So there goes my question again. When was the last time we did something for nothing? Charity? Well, how many people do charity because they want to, just because their hearts feel the need to? Definitely there are, but how many? Most people pray or worship, do charitable work, put a constant check on their words and actions - because they wanted to please God, whatever God they believe in. They didn't want to end up in hell, or be reincarnated as molluscs in their next lives. How many religious people were good because they want to? If God was proven to be non-existent, or if it was proven that only Heaven exists, and Hell didn't, and that everyone would go to Heaven no matter what they did on Earth, would people still be good?

Take for another example - friendship. We have friends because we want something from them. I always tell my bestfriend - we use each other - and she agrees. I want her companionship and she wants mine. Sometimes I would want her to do something for me, and sometimes she would want my help. We wouldn't be doing things for each other if we didn't need each other sometimes. It's a form of symbiosis. No one would want to be host to a parasitic "friend", would anyone? That's my point again - when was the last time we did something for nothing? When was the last time we did something good, because our heart is pure and good, and we know not otherwise?

So, do think about this post the next time you aplogise to somebody. Are you apologising because you really feel sorry for what you've done, that you regret your actions, and you never intend to repeat your wrongs, or are you apologising for other things? In Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Rhett said to Scarlett - "You're in the exact position on a thief who's been caught red-handed and isn't sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he's going to jail"

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