Social Question

haegenschlatt's avatar

If I help someone and I regret it, does that make me a bad person?

Asked by haegenschlatt (122points) August 26th, 2010

A few things:

I’m in high school now. My teacher has a system where all students are in groups and the performance of the group on quizzes, tests, and homework affects the grade of the group members. This is not any different from other classes one may have had. However, my teacher also has a system where the performance of your group is compared against the performance of other groups, and the highest groups are given the highest grades, from 100 down to 70.

The thing is, the day before the teacher put this system into place, I spent an hour helping a friend not in my group, teaching him the concepts.

Also before this, my middle school had a somewhat informal debate club (informal as in didn’t take up a huge amount of time or dedication, just a place to debate). We elected officers, and I was in the running with many of my friends. I voted for my friends, just because they were my friends. There were five officers and I ended up being sixth place by one vote. I felt bad, but not too bad because I had still helped a friend out for his benefit, not my own.

When I told my father about both these things, he reprimanded me and said what I did was a bad move.

I ask Fluther for collective wisdom: What do you think? Was I wrong to help people while hindering myself?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

Winters's avatar

No, that is rather selfless which is overall a pretty good quality for an individual to have. Keep it, just don’t go so far as to become one of those ridiculously altruistic people.

haegenschlatt's avatar

@Winters Would you consider what I’ve done so far as “ridiculously altruistic”?

chyna's avatar

No, it makes you a very nice person. I think this has taught you that sometimes “nice guys finish last.” So if you really wanted that position, you should’ve voted on yourself.

CMaz's avatar

Only if you bail out half way through it.

harple's avatar

Not at all… There is an attitude out there that says every man for himself, and that attitude will move you up in the world, but at what cost? Your father will be disappointed perhaps because he would like to see you do well. It may be that you will need to do more things in your own favour, just to not miss out, but perhaps this will happen when it is something you actually feel strongly about. So I wouldn’t stress about it. Neither would I stress about feeling bad after the fact that your help meant you missed out – that’s a normal human response. Hopefully the good feeling you also felt will win out though. As @Winters so eloquently puts it, it is a pretty good quality for an individual to have.

Austinlad's avatar

I won’t go so far as to criticize your dad for his reaction—I’m sure he had what he thought were good reasons—but I very much like and approve that you did what you felt was good and right, and I support you all the way.

marinelife's avatar

You are the one who has to look in the mirror every day. You need to feel good about the person that you see.

You did not see the consequences and you were acting from a good heart. You should not regret your actions.

Austinlad's avatar

Let’s hear a big Fluther ATTABOY for @haegenschlatt !!!

Seaminglysew's avatar

No, helping some one else is never a bad thing. You should feel good about yourself.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it’s great that you helped other people out, even when you were running against them or being graded against them. As long as you remember to continue taking care of yourself along the way and not always put everyone else ahead of yourself, you’ll be fine!

john65pennington's avatar

Your father is absolutely incorrect by telling you this. so what if you did not come out as the ace of the class? the fact you helped a friend in need is much more paramount than anything else you could have ever accomplished. being number one is not always the best choice. you helped a friend that needed help and i for one am very proud of you. john

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that’s a lovely trait. Not many people can say the same.

However, don’t be a pushover. If you always put other people first you’re bound to end up at the bottom sometime. Don’t forget to put yourself first every now and then. :)

Winters's avatar

@haegenschlatt No, ridiculously altruistic in my opinion is the point that you start seeing yourself as a tragic hero, and thats just getting full of yourself. So I’d say that you seem pretty healthy – mentally – and whole lot better than most people today, just don’t let it get to your head.

anartist's avatar

You were a good decent person helping your friend because he was your friend. If, as fate would have it, the playing field shifts afterward, well that’s life—get used to it.
But feel good about what you did.
Your father may be shrewd and trying to teach you tactics of success, but you are more likely to achieve success [and enjoy it] by being the caring, giving person you are.

One thing about the debate club—were your friends really the best candidates?

Zyx's avatar

No such thing as a bad person. To anyone who disagrees: get over yourself.

haegenschlatt's avatar

@anartist Yes, they were really good candidates as well. I voted because they were my friends, and also because within the running they were the most competent.

Trillian's avatar

@Zyx so, anyone who does not share your views must be all about themselves or something? What?
@haegenschlatt, well done. I won’t get into the instructors methods for grading, since that doesn’t seem to be at issue. I’m not clear about whether or not you regret helping these two people.
But you have to live with yourself, so if you always act in accordance with your principles,
you will be very well served. It would seem that acting in the manner which your father recommends is against your character. I would think that following his advice would make you more regretful than following your own inclinations. I think you’re off to a great start.

kess's avatar

You are the best Judge of yourself, and your judgement will cause you to stand or fall.

Live life without regrets therefore see all things in the past as a sum total of the present you- the person.
Try yourself not in the eyes of the crowd but inwardly silenty from your knowledge of the truth.

chocolatechip's avatar


I’m pretty sure Stalin was pretty bad.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Helping others is a mark of good character. Do what seem right to you and you will rarely go far wrong. Live by your own standards especially when they are higher than those around you.

truecomedian's avatar

Part of me doesn’t understand the question. Meaning my reply will be bullshit. I have to remind myself that your much younger than I and this is important to you. I don’t mean I’m older like it matters. You helped the enemy because now they can throw off the curve a little bit, your dad might be saying what he’s saying because he might think you got played, like maybe this person you helped had prior knowledge of this new system, not likely though. Dude, your life is so awesome right now, don’t sweat it. I have some really serious problems, it’s life. But I’m not saying yours are less important than mine. See your question is hard for me to answer. Just try to explain to dad that you were just being your helpful self helping that guy was ex post facto. Just do what you have no choice to do, do your best and not tripping is bonus.

zen_'s avatar

That’s how it usually turns out. The road to hell is paved…

actuallery's avatar

To a certain degree, it was a bad move to let others get better placings but to help another student understand concepts was good of you even though it may have detrimental affects on your team.

If you were in line for a promotion at a high profile firm, would you have helped a lesser employee get the upper hand and possibly winning that promotion over you? The point here, is, that although the lesser employee got the job, his performance may not be as good as yours thus causing long, or short, term problems for the firm. You, however, being on the short list, thus being a valuable employee, would benefit the firm rather than makng it sink.

Don’t sell yourself short just to help another person get the position you want but, also, don’t let others push you into things that have no real benefit.

Zyx's avatar

@chocolatechip Damn your exapmple, I do actually dislike that guy a lot. But good and evil are thing we’ve made up and we’re all experiencing different thing. Stalin probably didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.

truecomedian's avatar

You fucked up plain and simple.

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