Doing your good deeds publicly?

When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!

HydrantsFBBack in mid-February, our local newspaper social media guru wrote: “A good deed loses some of its purity when it’s broadcasted by the ‘doer’ on social media.” I thought this was self-evidently true.

One person replied: “I’d like to think people do this to inspire others to follow suit. But the skeptic in me is pretty sure that they do this to satisfy their ego.” I have no idea about the motivation, but too often, it just feels unseemly.

Another: “If you want to pay it forward, just do it! If you are looking for praise for your complimentary cup of coffee , then you did it for the wrong reasons.” I’ll give that an AMEN.

And: “Bragging about a good deed is tacky. Class is when you do the right thing, not only when no one is looking but also when no one will thank or praise you.” YES.

And: “I know when I had someone do a random act of kindness for me, I was shocked and mentioned it on social media.” If the receiver mentions it, that is a whole ‘nother thing.

Of course, MY first reaction was to cite the Gospel of Matthew. I didn’t QUOTE it – this WAS Facebook – but I shall do so here, from chapter 6, verses 2 and 3:

When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.

Then the conversation went into a slightly different direction, about digging out fire hydrants, a function, no doubt of a then-recent fire on a Friday night, where the firefighters were hampered by a hydrant being buried in the snow. By Sunday, local fire departments, both paid and volunteers were liberating the hydrants.

I noted: “Saturday, my daughter and I liberated TWO fire hydrants on our block, NOT in front of our property. She said, kiddingly (I think), ‘We should get a citation from the city.’ My thinking was that the deed was the reward, and would not have otherwise mentioned it at all but for this conversation.”

This is a long way of asking: do you note in social media when you do a good deed? Is it for promoting oneself or to inspire others to do likewise? The above example notwithstanding, I almost never note my good deeds, because it doesn’t feel right. For me.

F is for Firefighters

I have always lived in locations with paid firefighters. Yet, “volunteers comprise 71% of firefighters in the United States.


One of the most riveting events in my early life was the massive fire that took place at an apartment complex known as the Rogers block, four wooden structures just down the street from my grandmother’s house. While the building were a total loss, I don’t recall any casualties. Moreover, the firemen – they were all men in those days – managed to contain the fire to those buildings, not allowing it to reach the nearby homes.

So fires have long fascinated me. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the The 2009 U.S. fire loss clock
•A fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds.
•One structure fire was reported every 66 seconds.
•One home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds
•One civilian fire injury was reported every 31 minutes.
•One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 55 minutes.
•One outside fire was reported every 49 seconds.
•One vehicle fire was reported every 146 seconds.

I have always lived in locations with paid firefighters. Yet, “volunteers comprise 71% of firefighters in the United States. Of the total estimated 1,148,100 volunteer and paid firefighters across the country, 812,150 are volunteer.” Moreover, “the majority of fire departments in the United States are volunteer. Of the total 30,165 fire departments in the country, 20,857 are all volunteer; 5,099 are mostly volunteer; 1,752 are mostly career; and 2,457 are all career.”

In 2009, US firefighter fatalities included 47 volunteer firefighters, 36 career firefighters, and 7 part-time or full-time members of wildland or wildland contract fire agencies.

Is the fire protection in your locale career or voluntary firefighters?

How Do I Become A Volunteer Firefighter?

US Fire Administration

ABC Wednesday – Round 8