The Altruist

The newsletter for Philanthropists

Welcome.

Most acts of altruism are reactive, that is, we do them when we witness other people’s suffering or misfortune first hand, or through the media. We see an injured bird and take it to the nearest vet. We see TV images of suffering after an earthquake or a famine and donate money to disaster relief charities. It’s less common for people to be altruistic in a more proactive way. It seems to speak of a more deep-rooted and unconditional compassion, resulting in what you could call ‘unconditional altruism.’

But did you know that after a transformational experience, such as a diagnosis of cancer, bereavement, recovery from addiction, or an intense period of depression, many undergo an ‘awakening’. They typically, become more appreciative of life, they live in the moment and feel a powerful sense of contentment. And they often become much more altruistic.

This connection to others, empathy and compassion results in a strong impulse to try to alleviate other people’s suffering, or to help them develop in a positive way. In other words, they are more liable to engage in reactive altruism. At the same time, they feel a strong general impulse to do what is right to uphold universal moral principles, resulting unconditional altruism.

The human psyche is fascinating, but it’s my dream that people don’t have to experience a trauma to become altruistic. If people all work to the same goal, of a wholesome world, one that supports our fellow man for the better and lifts one another up – imagine the greatness that could happen.

Asif Mohamed
Editor


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