on my way to work yesterday, i passed a galah that was unable to fly. growing up being a vet’s daughter, i naturally stopped, wrapped it in a towel, and took it to see my dad. i thought i was helping the little guy. after a quick consultation, my dad concluded that the bird’s breastbone was emaciated from old age - there was nothing he could do but to put it down.
so here i was, dumbfounded. i thought i was helping the bird. but i potentially ended its life before its time. sure, some might say that was the “humane” thing to do, but how do we know? how do we know that little bird wasn’t content living its perfect little bird life?
the point is, regardless of our intentions, we never know if our actions are actually helping someone or hurting someone. and often we won’t know for a long time. we might think giving money to an addicted sibling is “helping” them, but it actually might be hurting them. our intentions might be pure, but our actions might be harmful. and unfortunately, there’s no way to know which it’ll be, helpful or harmful, until hindsight.
sometimes though when we offer help, we do so from a position of arrogance - a position that we know what is best for the individual. but the reality is, no one really knows what’s best for them. it’s hard then to be completely reassured in the altruism of our actions - so, what then, do we do? do we stop our car to help the wounded animal, or do we proceed in ignorance, allowing mother nature to take its course?
i suppose it comes down to a choice: do we want to be known for what we chose to do, or for what we chose not to do?