Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value – and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.
Let’s none of us kid or fool our-selves. Giving of time, possessions, compassion, self is a lesson most, if not all of us are taught from the very moment that we are able to comprehend language, any language. Even from a time that we might no longer recall, the indoctrination of “giving” began. “Sharing” one’s toys with the little fellow or gal who lives next-door or simply comes to visit is impressed upon us as being virtuous, kind, good. Sharing our sandwich at school lunch with some-one who appears “less blessed” or “short” is rewarded with a kind note from teachers, parents and perhaps, other school-mates (who have been like-wise indoctrinated). And “gift-giving” of all types and fashions is globally approved by the vast, vast majority of beings. Have you ever seen a pet dog or cat pick up a favoured toy, humbly carry it to another dog or cat, lay it at the feet of the other and step back or walk away? In a gathering of several people, the air is suddenly filled with the droning “Awwwww….”, heart-felt chorus of approval and delight.
As we grow, as we age, but not necessarily as we “mature”, since “maturity” truly has nothing to do with the length of time one exists nor has it anything to do with how much or little one experiences, what is impressed most and strongest is that giving with the expectation of reciprocity is negative, wrong. When we give, so it’s stressed, we ought or even must do so simply for the sake of giving, never expecting or hoping that the kindness will ever be returned in any fashion, form or manner. Giving must be a selfless act, performed simply because, as I, myself was told, one can, one should, one must and, if ALL people on Earth were to do so, no one would be with-out, everyone would have all that each one needs or desires and global contentment would reign in full glory.
Religion, generally defined as a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe, will dictate and attempt to convince us that every “good deed” will be rewarded with like, similar or equal reciprocity, either “in this world or the next”. But no matter what, how, when or where, no act of kindness will be un-seen, un-known, and will never be unrequited. Eventually, even if after our death, brutal or peaceful, every kindness will be addressed, redressed and rewarded. Some deity, god, force, being, spirit will look upon us, know the kindness of our heart and will make divine note of our action and will ensure that or deed does not fall by the way-side… ever.
Ah yes? Here and now? Or later in some “after-life” that, by the way, still, to the moment in which this essay is composed, has never been proven, infallibly, to be factual?
Indeed, if one is of the inclination, one may argue that, should one live comfortably, relatively or really, that one’s “blessings” are the results of one’s kindnesses bestowed upon others, whether they were in need or simply in want of such.
“I saw that he had nothing to eat and no way of getting anything to eat, so I brought him to the diner and paid a wonderful lunch. I do that frequently and look, I, myself am never with-out food.”
Superstition? I ask you. Or tangibly and incontrovertibly provable fact?
Which-ever we choose to believe, based on the success of the indoctrination imposed upon us in early years and through-out a life-time, the bottom-line foundation of fact remains that (a) by the very nature of the “reward” of being “never with-out food” and (b) believing that being “never with-out food” is a result of having provided food for another obliterates any relationship with or to “altruism”.
How-so? you may ask. Simple, I should reply. Because “altruism” by its own definition dictates the the “altruist” may never, and I stress never benefit directly from any act of kindness or giving. No matter what the fashion, the deed must simply be done solely for the purpose of fulfilling a dictate: Do simply for the sake of doing because it must be done not for the sake of one’s self but for the sake of Creation as a whole. Once done, the matter of the action ceases to ever have existed. The person in need is no longer in need, therefore the needing person no longer exists. Because that needing person no longer exists, your contribution to the need is no longer a matter of concern and therefore, becomes non-existent in and of itself. You, having given, are neither happy nor sad because of having given, you experience neither gain nor loss of any kind because of having given, your mood, life, existence experiences no change, positive nor negative and you neither acknowledge or are acknowledged for having done.
Now, take a brief moment and honestly, deeply and sincerely ponder: How often and for how long can you continue an existence of this kind? Doling out, incessantly, to others, in time, effort, materials, even knowledge, with absolutely NO thanks or even a basic acknowledgement of your action or contribution? (And, before jumping into some far-fetched conclusion, be reminded: “Mother Theresa” has been “canonized” by the Catholic church as a “saint”… therefore, she has been acknowledged AND rewarded for her acts of kindness, not to mention, she and her “cause” were funded by many during the course of her life-time. She was not an “altruist”, by any means of the term by definition.) Again, consider the extent of ability and capability of any person, self or other, who gives repeatedly, to do so with-out some form of reparation. And as you consider, remember that we are taught that this is the proper way in which to give, no matter what, how, how many times or for how long. “Give and do because one must, and not because of any promise, factual or other-wise, of remuneration.”
Eventually, no matter how wonderful or “divine” we may believe ourselves to be, like a well run dry, a reservoir turned arid pit, if not our material possessions, our heart and soul will empty, the ability to give and give freely will cease because at some point, our spirit, our soul will starve… ultimately to its death. “Altruism” will have murdered… not only the soul but the very being, the giving will have depleted all, leaving nothing but an empty presence surrounding a void. The breath and blood of humanity will have been drawn to nothing. The kind and giving heart will fail to beat its next, and eyes will either dim into a dismal darkness of depression having been ignored, taken for granted and abused or they will open to the realisation of the reality that either the giving cease and taking or acceptance of that given by others commence or certain death and no further existence will be inevitable.
Difficult to accept. Difficult to imagine for some. But… let’s none of us deceive or fool ourselves. To give continually might certainly be some-what admirable, if appreciated. How-ever, there is NO NEED nor is there ANY good sense to give continuously, lest we demand swift and painful self-annihilation.
Bear in mind, as word of advice and warning that there is a deep-set and deep-rooted truth in a rather old and sagely adage:
When I treat others as they treat me
they think I’m rude, hateful or angry with them.