Thursday, 26 April 2012

Altruism

We have often heard the words human nature bandied about. These two words are used to cover everything from repetitive excesses of indulgence to rape and murder. We can allow ourselves to believe that whatever mistakes we commit, and whatever fraud we are guilty of can be explained away so easily because we are in effect the sort of flawed creatures we call human. In fact, this is so ingrained into our psychology there is a very famous saying in our society, we say, to err is human, and to forgive divine. We tend to associate our nature with the least desirable of our qualities. In essence, most humans tend to deviate towards evil, and this has been reflected to no small extent in our history and our religion.

If this is true, then what is most repugnant to human nature, would in fact be altruism. You see, what makes altruism so brilliant is that it bucks the trend.

Most, if not all humans, can in effect be categorised as being self centred. Now, wait a minute, you look at yourself, dear reader, and for all that you know, you are probably the most generous person in the world. Hell, you probably give more to charity than you save up in a year. But, keep in mind, you only do this because it makes you feel GOOD. It gives you the right to look down your nose at all those other idiots who seem to be wasting their lives (and a considerable part of their incomes) satisfying meaningless cravings. It allows you to scoff at materialistic pleasures and earthly avarice. The point is, dear reader, that in being GOOD, or probably BETTER than most, you are still acting in your own self interest.

Human nature then, can be defined as actions undertaken by us in our own self interest. Or so you would THINK.

Because, you see, what sets us apart(from animals and magic talking lizards) is the fact that we can be altruistic. And altruism isn;t just doing good, or doing the right thing. Altruism is doing the right thing even when there is no perceptible reward available for the same. And if there is a severe detriment to us for doing the right thing, then some of us still go ahead and do it. This is known as sacrifice, and is something that our religion and all of our mythology has gone into great detail on. Human beings are capable of great sacrifice, almost other worldly sacrifice, the sort of scrifice that you would normally reserve for epic tomes of fiction, like one of our fabled epics.

Now, after all of this dear reader, the question still remains. What exactly is human nature? And the only way to answer this is through a quasi-answer, something that does not satisfy the question at all.

You see, the only thing that is consistent in human nature is that it is random. And that is what makes us human. The fact that we can be utterly random. This allows us to make great sacrifices, or act in our own self interest. We will always deviate towards evil, the only thing that saves us from its overreaching clutches is that sometimes, spontaneously, and rather randomly, we decide to do good things.

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