I am a computer specialist working for a company in San Francisco. I have an acquaintance who owns a small school here in town. Not everyone can be a computer expert, so I am accustomed to getting calls when his machines stop working properly. One day he phoned explaining that something had “changed” and no-one was able to check their email. I arranged to get off work early and stopped by to help set things right. Since then I have made several “house” calls to help out with small technical problems. I got used to sharing my thoughts with him as I updated their website, or added a new email account. In the course of our conversations we talked about the Bible, and he learned that I do not have faith based on any organized religion. Normally I charge an hourly rate for the sort of computer work that he needed, but since their business is just getting off the ground I brushed off his attempts to compensate me. This is really nothing new. For almost twenty years now I have been helping out friends and neighbors with desktop support; everything from rebuilding computers, helping install DSL to setting up wireless networks, creating websites. I make it a point of not asking for anything in return. Neighbors should help neighbors. Besides, Karma has a way of coming back to you. For my trouble, I have been given massage gift certificates, hand-made jewelry, and scotch. Well almost. The neighbor’s kid dropped the bottle on his way to deliver it (too bad because that particular brand happened to be my favorite).
So to get to the point…The acquaintance that I mentioned earlier sent me an email saying that the computers were working fine and everything is ok. He then said it was refreshing to know a “…secular humanist who is helpful, not because of the possibility of a reward in a future life, but because it is a good thing to do.” This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me without referring to my cooking abilities. It was also the moment that I realized what my beliefs are. I have always been leery of accepting church authority, but still have a strong sense of right and wrong. I believe it’s important that I help to make the world a better place by being nice, and to try not to be too surprised when others are nice to me.
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