I Believe Altruism is Just a Kinder Version of Egoism

Valentina - Burr Ridge, Illinois
Entered on April 25, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

A few weeks ago I found myself in an altruistic mood, sitting with a former middle-school classmate who was all alone at lunch. It wasn’t long before I found out why he was in isolation. Shortly after my pseudo befriending, I found myself with ten voicemails at the end of every day, varying from complete adoration to those who teetered on death threats. My patience wearing thin, and my “I’m a great person” attitude long gone, I cut contact. My conscience barely reflected the effects of my absence on this person, who had given me his trust and devoted friendship. I focused on my personal comfort rather than really pondering the positive impact I was in the position to make on his life. I believe egotism is the blood that runs through the veins of good intentions. Real selflessness comes from someone who doesn’t get some kind of smug, self satisfaction from allegedly contributing to the “greater good”. But these so called targets of my occasional human charities suffer individually. They might not be living in Sub- Saharan Africa, but pain is proportional to perspective. A theory outlined by well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow- states that when certain basic needs are met, the human mind focuses on the next that is not. One that goes to bed hungry may be suffering just as much as one who goes to bed lonely. Me? I was just flat out creeped out. With psychology as a former career prospect of mine, I had an edge of tolerance and understanding to the perceivably awkward conversations we engaged in before I decided to leave. Never being a social butterfly myself, I was able to relate on a level that he probably never encountered before in another person. Being competent enough to engage in semi- normal societal living, I knew it was about time to pull away from this toxic acquaintance. But not until I’ve sat down to write this, have I felt a twinge of guilt for doing what every one else has seemingly done, abandon him for being strange. Every day millions of people quietly affront other’s pain, feeling no personal responsibility to relate to the un-relatable. It its easy to reach out to someone enjoyable, but it seems as though, we as humans will not plunge into unpleasant endeavors without expecting some kind of exorbitant outside praise. For this very reason we witness celebrities and wealthy politicians publicly donate to charity, usually spending more on publicizing the act, then that actual donation itself. Benevolence always has some kind of effect on its source- if it didn’t, it would be meaningless to the human psyche. My initial curiousity with this person disappeared, and I really had no more satisfaction left to gain. Solely driven by desire, I believe self-interest foments every act of human kindness.