A prairie dog whistles to warn others of a hawk attack, so the hawk swoops straight down to eat the whistler. A mommy bear protects her cubs from predators risking her own life. This is an example of a concept that seems to be working against natural selection, called altruism.

Altruistic acts are considered acts of self-sacrifice, and therefore, they are generally regarded as the opposite of self-interested acts. In other words, its opposite of being selfish. 

I first came across this word, ‘altruism’ while reading a book called, “The Virtue Of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand. Although I didn’t  agree to most of her philosophies when I read the book ten years back, today, few do make sense. Whatever the moralists can disagree about, they will agree on few arguments I am putting forward.

Why is it that a son, who shifts to a different country to pursue his dreams, becomes the one who ‘abandoned’ his parents? Why is an ideal mother is always pictured as the one who has stays home and sacrifices her career to nurture her family? Why is a father considered great when he spends only on his family and not himself.

People’s moral judgments are often driven by emotion and like the emotions, well that changes a lot.. with convenience !! Aristotle, did not consider ethics and values to be an exact science. He based the ethics on observations and consequences of the choices we make.

Ethics is a code of values that guide a man’s choices. There are always alternatives to choose from. When the motivation to make a choice is  based on self interest, it is usually termed as ‘selfishness’.

The girl, renounces her parent’s house and title because she has accepted that as a moral duty. She believes that that is what she is supposed to do. The boy, chose his goals to exist as a productive being. The mother, stepped out of the house, with a heart full of love for her child. The father wished to have a life, according to his taste. All those choices did not make them selfish, because the choice was made under the guidance of reason that don’t clash with the greater good.

People try and live two lives. One is a mock version where they try to please others, want a huge gang of followers and friends. Later in life, comes a time where they learn to value themselves and their relationships. They finally identify that in order to give more to the world they need to have more inside of them–knowledge, experience, insight, love, wealth etc. And the more they look after themselves, the more they can contribute to the world.

To untangle this moral dilemma I believe that self-love is simply forgiving yourself for the past, being present and grateful for who you are today, and being optimistic for your future. The past choices should be considered a lesson and less of a regret.


52 thoughts on “ALTRUISM

  1. This particular piece hits home with questions I have often pondered upon. Asking too many questions on why we need to follow societal norms has seldom been met with approving ears from parents and relatives alike. no matter how far we have come from the early modern era (industrial revolution), our socio-economic status and responsibility/labour division still hangs on to the age old concept of man being the provider and woman the care giver. Toxic masculinity and sense of mediaeval morality has been sewed into the very fabric of our existence, such that even in this era of ultra liberals and thought leaders, we still can’t accept people or things which doesn’t fit in to our vision of how things should be.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Good read👌👌…I still believe we need to strike a balance on every situation possible. Life is all about striking a balance and living a life on your terms🙂🙂🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Totally agreed.. Everyone seems to have their own version of moral ground and get there is a deep urge to follow what society has laid out. Only those few who break out of the pattern can actually make some difference, rest just follow the herd. Past is a good place to learn from but definitely not a place to live in.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Agreed 💯%, one such message I read recently was this :

    One friend..
    3 years earlier crossed 50..
    Just about 8 days later an ailment was the excuse and a condolatory message on the group …Sad more RIP 🙏
    Two months later i called her husband. A thought crossed my mind ..he must be devastated. Her spouse had a travelling job. Till her death she would oversee everything… of their laws..their sickness..relatives..everything
    She would express at family ..but should we not get appreciation…why are we taken for granted?

    I called up. I thought her hubby must be be responsible for evetything..aging parents, loneliness at this must he be managing?
    The cell phone rang for some time..the mind was perplexed..After an hour he returned the call..He apoligised that he could not receive the call..He had started playing tennis for an hour at his club and meeting friends ensured he had a good time. He took a transfer to Pune.
    All well at home , i asked.
    He replied ..he had hired a cook ..he paid her more and she would buy the groceries and provisions. He had hired full time caretaker for his aging parents. Managing..have to ..etc..I barely managed to say a couple of sentences and we hung up.
    Tears welled up my eyes.
    She was immovable from my vision.
    She had missed the school reunion for minor ailment of het mother in law.
    Looking for some appreciation and some applause..said she
    I feel like telling her..
    No one is indispensable.
    And no one will be is play of our mind.
    Perhaps it is the consolation..a symbol of our understanding if you would like to call it that…
    That’s the problem of putting others first.
    You have taught them
    You come second
    Reality bytes
    After her death two more maids were hired.
    The house was in order.
    We only measure our respect and our value..ain’t that true?
    Then do enjoy life..Remove the frame of mind that i am indispensable and without me the house will suffer..🙏
    Most importantly make me time..the time for the self..

    This message really shook me hard. Self love is important ❤️❤️

    Liked by 5 people

  5. You are so right, my friend. We must learn to love and nurture our own selves, if we are going to effectively be able to nurture others. Like when on the airplane they tell you that you should put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else near you.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. It’s beautiful. We should be unapologetic for choosing our selves. Our parents invest in us so we become a unique Identity. But over the course of time, we forget that and start living for someone or something. We sometimes need to disassociate from things that we believe defines us and try find our own selves.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You make some very valid points. Morality — if it is to serve as more than a weather vane, subject to changes in mood and societal variation — must be grounded in eternal truth. We may choose to sacrifice our personal desires, our own good, for the good of others. When a soldier dies for the sake of his comrades, we recognize and honor his heroism. But that sacrifice must be willing, not the result of parental, peer, or societal pressure. We are all accountable for our actions, much as we may wish to please our loved ones. In the choice of a career, we are making the decision how best to use the talents God has given us (talents for which we bear a responsibility). That is a matter of conscience, first and foremost.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pingback: ALTRUISM – quotidian | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s