I’ve said before that I am interested in why we do what we do as much as what we do. Here is my list of possible motives for everything I do on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or lifetime basis. I assume that many of my actions are motivated by two or more of these in various combinations. (At one point in thinking about this, I listed the 7 deadly sins; those sure come in handy, eh?)
need, desire, fear, love, anger, envy, empathy, experience, expedience, moral belief
These could be debated for hours. And it points to the utter irrationality of some of my actions. At first I didn’t have anger up there, but in trying to make this complete, I thought about everything I’ve done in the past 24 hours and analyzed each motive. So: Why do I yell at my kids? There is absolutely no good motive for this (unless I’m fearing for their lives and they are too far away to hear me), and I’m not even sure what the motive is. Usually I’m angry when I yell. But is that a “motive”? (Or does it just show how dumb I am?).
I think if I can match good actions with good motives, I will be happy. And these motives are not always easily classifiable as good or bad. If I envy my sister who is always cheerful, that could inspire me to be more cheerful (sure, you might say I “admire” her, but really, if it’s going to make me actually change my life to be more like her, it has to be something stronger, like envy). If I have a moral belief that abortion is wrong and then do harm to anyone else in acting on that motive, that would be wrong. If I am angry that I feel flabby and that leads me to eat less brownies (anything’s possible, right?) that would be good.
Not to belabor this point, but I think hate is a motive which I hope I don’t have–but if I hated sin, that would be a good thing, right? Ok, if you think of any motives to add to this list, please let me know.
Now, to question my motives if I have a question of action, like … I don’t know…
Should I (Jane) seek to go on WIC?
Do I need more food/money than I have? maybe
Do I desire more food/money than I have? yes
Do I fear going on WIC? maybe
Would I love to be on WIC? no
Am I angry about WIC (about where the funds come from and how they’re administered)? yes
Do I envy WIC recipients? hmmm. I think so, a little bit.
Am I empathetic towards those who need to seek out WIC? yes
Do I have any experience with monthly assistance (from anyone besides family; obviously my parents supported me for about 20 years) to learn from? no
Would it be expedient for me to go on WIC? In the shortrun: yes. In the long run: probably not, because it would not fix my problem, which is having less income than expenses.
*yesterday my father asked me if I needed him to send me a set amount each month in lieu of WIC checks. it took me approximately 5 seconds to run through all that money over time in my mind and revert immediately to my present problem (less money than expenses).
Do I have moral beliefs in regards to WIC? hmmm. Do I? Do I think anyone other than me has a moral obligation to feed me? yes. I believe my husband has a moral obligation to provide for me and our children; in fact, if he were derelict in his duty (he is NOT), I would prosecute him in court.
Do I think my family or my fellow church members have a moral obligation to assist me in providing for me and my family? yes, I believe they are morally obligated to assist me after (if and when) I do all that I can. If they were unwilling to do this, would I be justified in taking from them anyway? no.
Do I think my fellow countrymen are morally obligated to assist me in providing for my family after I have done all I can, after my family and my church have assisted me, and if I still am in need? yes, I think they are morally obligated to me as Americans (and I would say that as humans we have this obligation to every other human). If they were unwilling to assist me, would I be justified in taking from them anyway? no.
So, that’s my rundown of my possible motives in this case. You already know the conclusion I came to a few months ago. After further ponderance on this issue, all I can say is thank goodness I listened to Dick at the time. I knew I married him for some reason…