Sunday, October 12, 2008

'Friends' & Philanthropy!

In my ongoing quest to prove that 'Friends' was (and still is) one of the best TV shows EVER, I wanted to share an episode I just watched this afternoon. In Season 5, the episode "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS" poses an ongoing question: Can any good deed be selfless?

Joey argues that no good deed can be selfless, while Phoebe believes the opposite. Phoebe spends the rest of the episode striving to prove she's right. After several attempts (including letting a bee sting her), Phoebe finally decides to donate $200 to a PBS telethon where Joey has been taking pledges all day. Due to a long-standing grudge against Sesame Street and PBS, she's not too happy about giving the money, but she knows the donations will help other children who do like Sesame Street. Unfortunately, Phoebe's donation puts them over their telethon goal, which gets Joey on TV for taking the pledge. Watching Joey get excited about being on TV makes Phoebe happy, effectively ending her quest for a selfless good deed.

Although the episode ends without a definitive answer, it brings up an important philanthropic question about altruism and egoism. To what extent is giving for others? Does it matter if we partially, or wholly, give to benefit ourselves? Is there a proverbially line we 'shouldn't' cross?

1 comment:

SKN said...

This is totally an appropriate post for today as it's WFYI's "tote bag hell" week: a.k.a. pledge drive on the radio. Don't get me wrong, I'm an NPR junkie, but I am always turned off by the endless fundraising on the air. I was a proud NPR member before subscribing to the grad school budget, but just can't justify it right now.