I’m afraid I wouldn’t be an altruistic volunteer…because I’m not sure I believe true altruism exists…
Soooooooo, I honestly believe most people volunteer because they want to make a difference, full of good intention…
Recently I had a conversation with someone who dedicates lots of time to various charities. Of course, I was totally impressed… and maybe a little envious. To be able to impact the lives of many is an incredible feeling. I liken the experience to being a mini Oprah.
See the famous “You get a car, you get a car, and you get a car…” clip.
Okay, the kind of volunteer experience I am referencing is not quite like the aforementioned but you get the gist. Hopefully you watched that entire clip. You can see how Oprah enjoyed reliving that moment again, full of pride of her ability to be EXTANT with her audience. Please understand, I am not knocking her at all, because I believe she really just wanted to do something extraordinary, something unexpected. However, I do also recognize she was able to get something back out of the whole process. Perhaps accomplishment. Pride. Euphoria rivaling a junkie on a fresh high. Adoration. Praise. Who knows. I’m sure she was warmed by seeing the audience scream in delight.
Being able to make a difference on such a grand level definitely has its appeal.
Don’t judge me. I just have a difficult time believing in TRUE altruism.
Altruism according to Merriam-Webster
: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others
: behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species
See, I believe people want to do great things, want to help others. It just seems to coincide with feeling good about oneself, perhaps to missauge our own guilt? I know the rare occasions I give back I feel good for doing something helpful, and it makes me feel like a good person. Yes, I am ashamed to admit this out loud but I like…, no wait…, I love the feeling I experience when doing something great for someone else. Almost like runners high. I suspect it remains the same for many others too.
So this has me thinking… can anyone truly give back out of pure altruism? Surely we all get something back from service? But can there ever truly be altruism in service/giving back? My immediate and cynical answer is a resounding “no”… unless of course you have no ability to empathize, or perhaps exist on the autism spectrum. Folks this is not a knock on autism, merely pointing out that some may have the difficult task of being able to empathize.
I jokingly refer to my husband as the man with no soul, because he often times struggle with the ability to empathize with others who suffer. When posing the question of volunteering with altruism, he believed it was totally possible. He believes people can volunteer without getting something in return. I challenged him to think about if he would feel a sense of euphoria knowing he did something truly beneficial for others. He seemed truly unphased.
So basically, the way I see it… those who have any level of empathy for others actually may be the least altruistic, leaving altruism for those who struggle with empathy.
You can also check me out in the twitterverse @tobeextant
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Originally posted 2016-11-11 07:50:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter