To Sacrifice Ethics, or Abandon Aid to those in Desperate Need?

What would ever get accomplished without a little nudge on the back?

Motivation is a key aspect to success: that which drives us to take the very first steps of a long journey, and that which allows us to persevere through such a journey even when fatigue and doubt threaten to take over. Yet, motivation can often come in different forms; while there is self-created motivation, there is also motivation sparked by others.

When working toward a goal, it is necessary to consider the importance of achieving the end goal, and the importance of whether or not the motivation was self created. For instance, teachers who provide bonus points on tests to students who participate in charitable events create motivation for students to give back to their community. While such incentives may appear to strip charity acts of their selflessness, the main goal does not drift, and if it increases the youth participation in helping others, who could complain?

For students, grades are the number one motivating factor for why they do almost everything they do. Often times students must take classes they lack interest in, but force themselves to pay attention and study in order to perform well on the test. Even though the information appears to be useless, a waste of time, or far from the student’s intended major, they have no choice but to learn if they even want a chance at furthering their education past high school. Thus, driven students with high standards go to extreme extents to keep their GPA sky-high. Yet, eventually that student in the class they hate may end up discovering one thing they actually like about the class. Then, another thing. And another. The carrot at the end of the stick forced them to learn the material they thought they hated, but the accustomization to the process has led them to love it.

So, take the number one motivating factor for students, and use it to benefit the community, and satisfy the students. You can also expect a similar result: if the student does not initially have enough self motivation to participate in charity, the accustomization to helping out in exchange for better grades will eventually turn into self motivation.

For people aren’t born selfless: it is a trait that must be learned. And where better to learn generosity and altruism than a charity drive? As the participants grow to enjoy contributing to organizations, their character is improved in leaps and bounds. You cannot get someone who is not selfless to do charity on their own, but you can get someone who is not selfless to learn to think and care for others through opportunity and experience.

And once this trait is acquired, providing bonus points to charitable students allows those students to spend more of their time giving back, rather than reading and rereading their textbooks. They have a little crutch made of bonus points that allows them to take a break from studying, get in some community service, and further enhance their character.

But not only do incentives benefit the participants, but also the charity organization. Therefore, the forest must not be lost for the trees: the main goal is to be as successful as possible in providing aid to those in need. As long as the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, and the poor are sheltered, does it matter if students were driven to help by their own genuine character, or a few extra points on a test? In this case, the ends justify the means.

Incentives may be used to draw the participants in, but the feeling of helping others ends up keeping the students involved. When considering the ethics of such a situation, the end result is all that matters. Students are benefited: they receive better grades, and feel better about themselves at the end of the day knowing they made a difference. The organization is benefited: more students offer aid, therefore more people are helped. Thus, as long as the charity is flourishing, the practice of offering incentives to jumpstart students to get involved should not be looked down upon, but rather encouraged.

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