Owen Benjamin recently learned that being nice and influential at the same time sucks. I’d like to explain why (in my uneducated opinion) he’s getting this reaction from that 1% minority he mentions.
The thing he’s come to understand, quite intimately, is that it’s not a metaphor when we talk about “broken”, “twisted”, or “retarded” people. The people who need help in a post-scarce society are typically lacking in things that can’t be bought with time and money like loving parents, a normal childhood, healthy sociosexual development, or the cure for schizophrenia. The problem with being influential when there are more of these broken people around than Europeans are instinctively adapted for is that a lot of people with e.g. daddy issues are going to automatically latch onto you as an authority figure…and that means you inherit those daddy issues by default. More abstractly, if there’s a mutually implicating relationship between authority and accountability (as I’ve been saying lately), then the more someone takes your opinions seriously the more they’re going to blame you for their disappointments in life.
Remember the intro to this video on transference and projection?
Have you ever had any times in your life where someone seemed to take a real disliking to you, even before you ever had any chance to do something irritating or offensive? Or maybe you’ve had the experience of noticing that, around a certain person, your behavior becomes completely different? Perhaps you suddenly become quite clumsy or very talkative than you normally are. If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then you have already had the experience of transference and projection.
The trouble with being charitable is even a guy like Owen Benjamin (who has, arguably, the physiognomy to be the most charitable guy in the world) simply doesn’t have as much of himself to give as he probably thinks he does. Or I should say, probably “thought” he does. The fact is, even a single family member with a serious mental illness has the potential to break a high-functioning family if they aren’t conscientious about setting priorities, rules, and boundaries. I’m 100% certain that one of the reasons Christians are encouraged to practice charity in secret is simply because it keeps them, their families, and their neighbors safe from drowning charity cases who will grab the well-meaning rescuer and pull them underwater. It’s good to feel bad for stray dogs, but if you leave food out for them put it as far away from your doorstep as logistics allow or you’re just asking for trouble. Also, keep in mind that there is WAY more brokenness in the world than we can actually do anything about (i.e. “the poor you will always have with you”), so keep it close to the vest.
So here’s my advice, in metaphor: Treat homeless people like deadly snakes because if they didn’t have issues they wouldn’t be homeless. But don’t close off your heart either, because sin and weakness mean the same thing and God loved us while we were still sinners. (If you’re an unironic “gas the broken” type then you can unironically ignore the latter as slave morality.) There’s a reason aristocrats are stereotyped as either nasty people, somewhat detached, or both.
Or maybe a better metaphor would be rescue dogs: Don’t rescue more/bigger dogs than you can reasonably protect your family from when they have flashbacks to the bad old days.