As close as I get to a New Year’s resolution
“It is with a fearless heart and mind that I embrace altruism.”
For more than three decades competing ideologies have taken center stage in American life and across the globe. While 36% of the planet’s population lives in extreme poverty and is solely focused on survival, the developed nations are largely focused on taking sides in never-ending, ideological tugs-of-wars with escalating and often irrational consequences for the both sides. The discord between groups lately centers around real and perceived rights and entitlement as much as it does around actual political beliefs. How often do we here “its my right” to describe a counter view of an issue. While it’s true there are “rights”, it is more true that all rights are given, have to be shared to actually be a right, and virtually no right isn’t accompanied by responsibilities.
The radical, left versus right, view of the world has also began seeping into everyday, nonpartisan and often generally benign disputes between neighbors, friends and families. It is characterized by a rigid “I’m right” versus “you’re wrong” view of everyday events and disagreements. Radicalism, regardless of where it falls on the left or right, the perceived “right versus wrong”, describes no particular set of aspirations and aversions, but “the distance between what exists and what is desired”, and the way in which proposed changes are justified. Its particular character is therefore dependent on the historical circumstances in which it exists.
What a mess! It’s also hard to assign blame for what has been happening, and I’m not sure it matters. People attempt it, but is the blame game really worth it? How can I break away from the echo chamber and emerge stronger? Regardless of life’s challenges there are ways to overcome isolation and exand our reach, community and self worth.
The word “altruism” was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte as an antonym of egoism. He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning “other people” or “somebody else”.
One of the many explanations of Altruism is as a principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other beings. The practice most often results in a better material and spiritual life. While it is a traditional virtue in many, many cultures and a chief aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews, the concept of “others” can vary among cultures and religions. In its fullest context, altruism is synonymous with selflessness, the opposite of selfishness.
Based on everything you’ve just read about altruism, what could go wrong? The problem is “how can altruistic behavior be sustained if selfish alternatives provide a higher payoff?” This dilemma can be overcome by the threat of sanctions – and now we’re going off into the weeds and people’s rights, expectations for compensation and reward. The social dilemma is discussed here complete with models.
If you go by common sense, native intelligence, intuition or any other thought process, it eventually becomes clear why it’s important to remain altruistic, not just for the sake of others, but in order maintain the fragile fabric of human society.
For others to give without hesitation, I must give without expectation of reward. Altruism in its purest form is effort given without strings or self interest. It is almost puritan in form.
“Sanity consists in not being subdued by your means.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our Great Local Nonprofits
Please support our local nonprofits. We are fortunate to have so many located here in the North End or nearby that almost perfectly align with our traditions and values.
* Treasure Valley Institute for Children’s Arts
* River Discovery
* Idaho Conservation League
* Idaho Rivers United
* Wild Hearts Idaho
* Treasure Valley YMCA
* Boise River Enhancement Network
Camp Rainbow Gold
Agency for New Americans
Advocates for the West
Land Trust of the Treasure Valley
North End Neighborhood Association (pending review)
Women’s and Children’s Alliance
Idaho Voices for Children
Snake River Alliance
Artisans for Hope
Children’s Home Society of Idaho
If I have missed a local nonprofit organization that should be included here, please feel free to email me and I will check it out – firstname.lastname@example.org.
* These nonprofits are in my personal top 10 organizations.