Can We Be Unselfish?
A column in The New York Times asks, “Is Pure Altruism Possible?”
Of course, a lot depends on how you define “pure” and “altruism.”
Altruism means acting unselfishly, for the benefit of others or for the good of society. But does that mean it can’t benefit you? Or does it just mean that your motivation must be unselfish?
And our motives are usually complicated. Does “pure” mean that no part of our motivation can be selfish? That almost never happens. I might do volunteer work and get a good feeling about helping others. But my main motivation was still just to help.
Actually, I like something my grandmother said:
A good deed only counts if nobody knows you did it.
If you do a good deed and keep it a secret, then you can be pretty sure you did it for the right reasons.
Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.