This I Believe

marie - livonia, Michigan
Entered on February 24, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in altruism. The definition of altruism according to Webster’s dictionary is: “Unselfish concern for the needs of others or interests of others, providing gratification vicariously or from their responses.”

The definition made me think of a recent trip to the hospital I had. I was extremely sick. I was afraid and all by myself. In between my fear and crying, I spotted a little black nose come around the emergency room curtain. “Would you like a visit from Pet Therapy?” said a cheery voice. A small woman with two teenage daughters arrived with a black Labrador Retriever. Her name was Licorice and she was a volunteer at the hospital. Her only job was to comfort people and she did just that for me. As I stroked her silky black fur, my high blood pressure dropped immediately. It didn’t matter that I was being poked and prodded. My gasping for air suddenly turned into my normal breath. Immediately it was as if all the pain had left my body. Licorice had done her job and now she was onto the next patient.

I made sure I thanked the woman for sharing her dog and her time. I also made a comment to her that she was teaching her girls such a wonderful life lesson. With the girls participating on the pet therapy visits they get to experience altruism first hand.

Yet another true story of altruism brings to mind a man who was willing to risk his life. Recently in New York City, a man jumped on the subway tracks to rescue another man who had fallen by accident. He lay on his body to shield him from the oncoming train. He said he is not a hero. He saw someone who was in immediate danger and responded. His two small daughters must believe their dad was a hero. And to me he is a hero, not only did he save the man’s life, but he also showed his daughters the ultimate life lesson, compassion.

These are just two examples of people who really make this world a better place to live in. There are so many people in this world who are willing to donate their time or save a human life. I believe people have good intentions and they genuinely want to help. I know I am doing my part to make this a better world and I hope my children will follow in my footsteps.