I say that narcissists are not good people because when we know what they reap in terms of human relationships, the picture is ugly. Yes, they may give money to worthy causes. Some of them are generous and that is good and praise worthy. But when we view their personal lives we see close up the psychological havoc they wreak with their spouses and children and other family members.I think of this as The Kindness Issue. I commented once that while growing up, there wasn't an attitude within my family of serving others in simple, daily ways. My mother objects to this point of view - she countered via email that she and my dad were constantly doing things for other people like donating to food drives and putting money in the collection plate at church and sponsoring a poor child overseas. These things are true, but as Dr. Martinez-Lewi notes, it's not giving money that makes a person good.
Things I never saw my parents do:
- approach somebody on the street who needed help and offer assistance
- run errands, prepare meals, or otherwise help out a friend or community member who was ill or had had a baby
- go without something they wanted in order to give it to somebody else
- perform random acts of kindness
- perform hands-on service (medical missions, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, trash pick-ups)
But there's more. I want my kids to see me put away a shopping cart that was left in the middle of the parking lot. I want them to see me holding doors open for people. I want them to see me greeting people, offering help when it looks like it might be needed, saying encouraging things to harried parents in the check-out line. Rather than thinking about reading a book later to my kids, put down what I'm doing and read it now. Give them unsolicited hugs. Notice good things about them and tell them. I don't want them to see me doing these things so that I look good to them, but so that they learn to do these things, too.
I want my kids to feel like they have enough emotional and physical abundance to share. I want them to notice opportunities to share it. I want them to engage in the world in a loving, giving way, not in a tit-for-tat, stingy way in which one only does kind things for a tax deduction or to look good in front of others.