Requests vs. demands

When people in the filk community need help, I sometimes try to help out, by assisting personally, providing money, or publicizing the situation. The community and the people in it are important to me, and I believe in voluntary assistance as a matter of good will. Once in a great while, though, I’ll see a request containing a statement that amounts to: “I shouldn’t really have to ask for this. I should get it from the government as a matter of entitlement.” When it’s put in those terms, it becomes a demand, and I ignore it.

Offering help is a transaction, but the price I ask isn’t high; it’s simply the recognition that I acted freely out of good will and out of recognition of the recipient’s value. Or to put it more simply, gratitude and respect for my autonomy. Anyone who claims to be entitled to my money is saying I’m just a cash source to tap.

It isn’t a deal-killer if you just think you’re entitled to my money. I might enjoy shocking you by showing that people are willing to help without a gun pointed at their heads. But if I think you’ll interpret my help as recognition of your claim upon me, forget it. I’m not the Bishop of Digne.

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