Notes for an Essay on Helpfulness

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Preliminary guesses:

Helpfulness as a keyword to social change. Helpfulness as a new paradigm for positive change.

[How to Write an Essay] [MLA citation guide]


Initial texts: SRP: Promoting religion and creating laws have failed to bring peace to our world. Promoting love, kindness, and lately "mindfulness" hasn't worked either. In the larger scheme of things, what might "helpfulness" be able to do if promoted around the world? JPS: In cooperation with other efforts here, I think "helpfulness" adds an important dimension of practicality, of tangible action. Speaking loosely, broadly, helpfulness is, e.g., love in action. It's kindness in action, religion in action. SRP: Obviously, you get the point. Now, do you think you can write something longer with references to other thinkers past & present? ... Look up "mutual aid," "strength of weak ties," and Ashby's Law [at]






  • Ashby's Law
  • strength of weak ties
  • mutual aid
   a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources
       and services for mutual benefit.
   eg AA
   those who help most are helped most


Paraclete: Advocate, comforter, helper. ["Helper" is not "helpfulness". Note coincidence of helpfulness and advocacy.]


Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.” ? Luther Burbank

A library agency in the neighborhood of these newcomers is a center of real service and helpfulness. Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-fourth Annual Meeting of the American Library Association Held at Ottawa, Canada June 26-July 2, 1912 Various

More and more the professors of the different creeds themselves are beginning tacitly to acknowledge that the prime worth of a creed is to be gaged by the standard of conduct it exacts among its followers toward their fellows. ~Roosevelt, Strenuous Life, chap. 5.

[I]n the country districts the quality of self-help is very highly developed, and there is little use for the great organized charities. Neighbors know one another. The poorest and the richest are more or less in touch, and charitable feelings find a natural and simple expression in the homely methods of performing charitable duties. ~Roosevelt, Strenuous Life, chap. 5

They indeed bind man to man in bonds of helpfulness and service. Practical Ethics William DeWitt Hyde

The juxtaposition of the two suggests the great principles to which the morality of the New Testament is ever true—that devotion to God is the basis of all practical helpfulness to man, and that practical helpfulness to man is the expression and manifestation of devotion to God. In regard, then, to their effects on character, in producing consideration and helpfulness to others, and in securing God's protection, love stands first, and knowledge second. ~Alexander McClaren (1826-1910). Expositions of Holy Scripture: Romans, Corinthians.

We've evolved so that we care about our relatives: we care about other people from our group, and we can care about humanity and about sentient beings in general. When others do well, we feel better ourselves, and when others suffer, we feel worse. Cultures with memes that encourage helpfulness survive better than uncooperative cultures, so we work to make our culture into a culture in which we and others can survive—or we work to maintain our culture in that way.

Helpfulness means trying to make life a little easier for other people. If we are paying attention, we notice when someone else is struggling –to open a door, to complete a task, or even to go through the dying process with grace and dignity. We move instinctively to ease the struggle – lending ourselves whether for a moment or a lifetime to serve their purpose.

   If we look around us, we become aware how much of the substance and beauty people are able to create depends on helping hands. Like generosity, helping is a gift that gives to the giver. Sometimes we receive help in turn from those we assisted; even more often our helpfuness ripples through the world as other people spontaneously pay it forward. ~Wisdom Commons

3 And finally in the application of these principles to life in its ethical domain Christianity has refined and spiritualized its requirements in great purity and serenity of the inner life It is in this respect that Christianity indeed excels in cultivating within the believer extreme sensitiveness of consciousness and conscience so that the idea of sin is a living and terrible conception for the Christian as it was once for the Jew And this vividness of moral consciousness and purification of the inner life leads to a certain humility and spiritual sweetness in earnest Christians that marks them out from all others It is a culture of the soul that yearns to express itself in loving helpfulness to humanity This principle of love it is of humane kindness that gives to Christian ministrations their peculiar sincerity and rarest charm It is chiefly in women that these noblest attributes of the soul life come to their ripest development Among us I thankfully recognize this tendency is beginning to be manifested and its evidence in personal sympathy and helpfulness is one of the brightest testimonials to the prospects of our religious future. ~The Peculiar People: A Christian Monthly Devoted to Jewish Interests, Volumes 6-7, American Sabbath Tract Society, 1893.


Social psychology: In social psychology, the everyday concept of helpfulness is the property of providing useful assistance; or friendliness evidenced by a kindly and helpful disposition.


Business management, employee engagement. (Tenney)

Civic. (Roosevelt)

Atheist. (not much so far)

Muslim. (Helpfulness Lapbook)

Child helpfulness acquisition. (Helpfulness Lapbook, Visualizing Helpfulness)


Study Love

philanthroPIa: Love for man, benevolence, philanthropy. It's that disposition which does not always think of self, but takes thought for the needs and wishes of others. It denotes that apparent and ready goodwill usually manifested in a friendly, considerate demeanor, and (especially in the practice of hospitality) **readiness to help**, tenderheartedness, cherishing and maintaining fellowship. The philanthropist (in this original Greek sense) serves his fellow citizens, protects the oppressed, is mindful of the erring, gentle to the conquered, and self-renouncing in reference to his rights. (Zodhiates) [philanthroPIa includes readiness to help, but since it includes a lot else, promoting it is not necessarily going to generate helpfulness. This quotation is the only relevant one in the whole HEAGAP section at Study Love.]

CHREST Versions: HWP: "You get good heart fo help da odda peopo." Greek:

Word: chre-STEUomai (5541)
   chre-STEUomai; future chre-sTEUsomai, middle deponent from chre-sTOS (5543), useful.
       To be kind, obliging, willing to help or assist. (1 Cor. 13:4) 

[Only this one of five definitions mentions helping. Even here it's just a willingness.]

Word: antilamBANomai (482)

   antilamBANo-; future antiLE-psomai, from anti (473), mutually or against, and lamBANo- (2983), to take, to hold.
       Used in the middle passive form antilamBANomai, to take hold of another mutually as by the hand, hence figuratively to support from falling as by the hand, to support, help, assist. (Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35) 

Luke 1:54: He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, (ESV) Acts 20:35: In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” English Standard Version (ESV)



"Helpfulness", Wikipedia. (Social psychology angle.)

Social Experiment: Helpfulness, posted by Janina David


Tenny, Matt. "How Helpfulness Drives Employee Engagement." Huffington Post. (publishers or sponsors of the site), April 11, 2016. Web. Accessed July 26, 2016. (Business management angle.)

IDEO’s Culture of Helping | Harvard Business Review, January 2014.

  • Derivative: Creating a Culture of Helpfulness | Faith and Leadership, March 4, 2014.

Helpfulness: A Key To Unlocking Leadership Responsibility Femgineering, June 17, 2013

Child Acquisition:

Even Small Children Are Less Helpful after Touching Money | Scientific American, June 21, 2016.

Developing the Roots of Helpfulness in Your Children | Bonnie Harris: Connective Parenting

Helpfulness Lapbook | Iman's Home-School Feb 5, 2014.

Visualizing Helpfulness (for children) | ThinkVirtues

Encouraging Helpfulness in Your Child: How to Create a Lifelong Love of Service | In Touch Ministries


Virtue of the Week: Helpfulness | St Thomas Source (Virgin Islands)

Roosevelt, Theodore. "Civic Helpfulness", Chapter 5 of The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses, New York: The Century Co., 1900.

Dictionary of Bible Themes: Helpfulness | Bible Gateway

Comfort Through Personal Helpfulness, by J. R. Miller, 1912



Random Acts of Kindness

Pay It Forward


Social Justice