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Re-Establishing Altruism As A Viable Social Norm

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Thinking Altruistically

Altruism requires a lot more of you than just profit maximisation. Living altruistically means considering how your actions affect others. This is particularly difficult if you're enmeshed in the capitalist system - globalisation of the economy means that buying cheap mass-produced goods can impact on the lives of people thousands of miles away...
However, don't be daunted. Start now with where you are. Here are a few ideas to get you started ...

    Think about others. Appreciate them.
  • Really listen when they speak, not just engaging on the literal, logical level. To understand where they're coming from you need to perceive what mood they are in. Not just what they are they saying, but how and why.
  • How can you help others? Don't just think about physical things here, but also emotional ones. Do they need encouragement, advice, compassion? The physical things will materialize if you have sufficient concern.
  • How do you value people? Do you look up to people who are wealthy? Loving? Successful in society's eyes? Do you have enduring friendships? Do you draw a sharp distinction between your business and your social contacts?
    Think about the world. Appreciate it.
  • If you have your own computer then you're one of the world's richer citizens. If you can read this without problems then you're better educated than most. Sure, your life has its problems, but if you didn't go hungry any time last week, and you can be know where next week's food is coming from, you're ahead of most people in the world. Realise how privileged you are, and whatever the unfairnesses or evils that afflict you, know that it is still a beautiful world.
  • Spend some time considering the wonder of creation. Look up at the stars one night, the trees in the breeze, a sunset, or anywhere you find beauty in the natural world. Do you do this often enough?
  • If you believe in God, pray to Him. If you have not found Him, give thanks anyway for your amazing and unexplained life. Thank those who have helped you along the way - teachers, family, friends, whoever. There are good people everywhere.
    Think about yourself.
  • How do you behave? Do you try to maintain a constant awareness of others, or do you close yourself off to the feelings of others' when it suits you? For example, do you stop to pick up hitch hikers?
  • How do you use language? Do you follow the values of those around you, or do you lead them? Do you use 'work' to refer to 'paid work'?
  • How do you spend your time & money? Do you conform to the capitalist model of utter selfishness, or do you consider the consequences of your actions on the world around you? Would you rather take a taxi or a bus?
    Resolve to be a force for good.
  • Be an example to the next generation of thoughtfulness and consideration of others. Try to think their thoughts and you will be half way to experiencing their feelings. Taking joy in relationships and reaching out to others will help you to overcome your own circumstances.
  • Whether or not they choose to give the impression, people want care and attention from others, always have done and always will do. If you are patient and draw along side them, your concern will show itself. It's a beautiful thing to help other people along.

FURTHER READING » The Idea of Altruism » Step Back from The Mainstream Economy

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