Is It Wrong to Incentivize People to Do Good?

I have been asking this question from myself for quite a few years now and I have a reason or more to believe that it is totally fine to promote people to do good be it an act of kindness or a voice for the voiceless. 3 years back, I came across a junior from my school who was studying in Bahria University, at the time. It opened in Lahore quite recently, then, as compared to the branches it has in Islamabad and Karachi and I must say – the university surely IS teaching more than just textbooks (or at least when I came across the idea it was doing so, idk about it’s current situation). Those students have 40 or more CSPs to complete per semester. The CSPs get points added to their final paper. What are CSPs?

CSPs‘ is the abbreviated term for “Community Service Points”.

Thus, students from that University make sure to do at least one drama per semester for a rehabilitation centre for the special needs kids. The drama is performed in Alhamra Arts Complex for one or two days and people buy tickets to go and watch it. After that those actors cum students go and perform it in the other two branches i.e. the major campuses/ cities as well and that too with a ticket (it was worth 300 PKR at that time) for the audience. All the money that is collected goes directly to that centre and neither the students nor the institution takes a single penny of doing anything be it for travelling or acting.

Many of them might do so for points at the beginning–which as per many people is wrong-because the students are being “forced” into volunteering and doing good. But then again – if this was the case then why does every religion incentivize its believers to do good and get good? It’s not a hidden secret that many follow the right path over not because they had some sort of a social sensibility calling out to them but because they want a good ending as per their religions.

Why do we do good things? Why do we carry out acts of love and charity? Conversely, why do we make bad decisions or choose to do evil or harmful things?

The surest way to get people to behave in desirable ways is to reward them for doing so—in other words, to provide them with incentives. This is so obvious that you might think it hardly deserves mention. You might say that people shouldn’t have to be rewarded to do desirable things.

Many might push back and argue we should do good because we love Jesus (or want to serve humanity), not because we are being rewarded. We should, but we can’t always do good for the right reasons all the time. Our fallen human nature prevents this.

The good news is that God perfectly understands our fallen nature. Thus, the notion of reward is woven through the Bible.

Incentives are hardwired into human nature. God knows humans need incentives to guide their decisions and behaviour. Even before the Fall, God gave an incentive to Adam in the Garden of Eden.

— Dr.Anne Bradely from George Mason University in her blog.

So, anyway, yes-it’d be wrong as per many people but the truth is we all are innately selfish. If it hadn’t been the desire to succeed in ‘akhirat‘ in our hearts would we still be following a particular path which as per many is considered as to be the right one? No – the truth is we might not-at least not in the start. No one but everyone thinks that they are the most empathetic beings to exist only until they actually need and be empathetic. No one truly stands up for the other person, unless their interest or superego is involved and mind you: super ego’s existence depends primarily on what we have been taught not something innate. Our elders help us develop our superego just as our religion. So no! If someone says that they are just highly self-conscious individuals who like doing good without their eyes on some kind of prize than they are pretty much hiding the truth. I, for instance, when started social work or internships – I did them for my catharsis. I felt needed in this world and even today – it keeps me grounded. It’s like I know my purpose i.e. to serve for the better.

Different people, thus, seek different objectives from the same thing in a way i.e something to keep them going – an incentive.

Those students might feel forced in their first semester or first year but this CSP would or might just awake the side of humanity that sleeps in many of us. They’d grow up to be empathetic individuals and would know how to tackle situations. They would; grow up to be the ones to accept social responsibilities, have an emotional sensibility and would actually work for a social cause only when once they have seen it be it forced or happily. Therefore, I feel that community service should be a part of our country’s educational syllabuses just as it is for many others – what do you think?

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