We have all had someone hold a door open for us to walk through. At some point someone might welcomed you into their home when you had nowhere to stay, and at rare times someone might have given up their parking spot for you to take. Perhaps we have all done the same for someone else. Things like this happen every day, but we hardly ever think about or even return the favor. kind acts from others can happen to us and we don’t realize it. Many of us have helped another person out without expecting anything in return, and sometimes we help others without realizing it. This may just be something we do regularly. However, There are people who argue wether these actions are intended or genuine. The word used to describe behaviors like this altruism. Altruism is defined as a voluntary act or behavior that benefits another individual at a cost to oneself.
When we help someone out, like holding a door open, we typically do not get any benefit out of it. There are many people and animals, such as honeybees and squirrels, who demonstrate altruism. When anything is being altruistic, It would seem that the behavior would have no benefit for the individual. Some people have asked why anyone would act to promote someone else’s welfare, even when it costs them more or puts them at a risk. This has lead philosophers and scientists to argue if anyone is ever really altruistic. The argument is, when engaging in altruistic behaviors, are there any advantages to you? There are people who find joy in holding doors open for people to walk through. For them this joy may be a type of benefit. Some behaviors that appear to be altruistic often have hidden benefits for those who perform the action. The example given in the textbook mentions squirrels and how they give off alarm calls when they see a predator nearby. The alarm tells other squirrels in the area what’s going on and this gives them time to run away and hide. For the squirrel who emits the call, this action puts him at risk of being attacked and eaten. If eaten, The benefits for it are non existent, but it’s relatives are now able to live another day. This seems like altruism, but the argument against it is that when any animal favors the survival of its relatives, it is really promoting the survival of its own genes. Although this acts is directly benefiting others, it is really just “selfishness in disguise “. Reciprocal altruism is similar to altruism, an individual’s behavior benefits another but with the expectation that those benefits will return to the individual in the future. “The animal who does favors today, tends to get favors tomorrow.”
Although some may argue that animals act to benefit each other, and that the only reason humans ever do anything expecting something in return, this isn’t always the case. Like animals that mutualize with each other, we tend to help out other peers and those around us. The only difference between us and animals is that we are capable of expressing genuine altruism. We can all benefit others each day weather we realize it or not. There are also actions that don’t happen regularly but still occur, such as donating blood or our very organs to people we don’t know and may never meet. Those who donated typically don’t get any gain from what they do, hence the word donating. But they get to benefit others and even save lives.
Through my life I have witnessed many events where altruism is present. A few years ago when I was in high school and had a lot more time than I do now, I was able to do outreach with people around me. During this outreach, we got to interact with many homeless people. We bought the clothes and supplied them with their need which took time and money. I’m cannot speak for the others, but I definitely never expected anything in return from them. I have also seen altruism in my life through my grandparents. When my family had just moved to Los Angeles, we didn’t really have a place to live. My grandparents allowed us to live at their house and never asked for anything in return. Obviously through the years we returned the favors in different ways but they never reached out to us to repay them. I’m really thankful for people who demonstrate genuine altruism. I have also found examples of altruism in books that I’ve read. There is a story found in the Bible which illustrates the theme of altruism. This story can be found in the book of Luke chapter 10 verses 25 to 37. This is the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus talks about a man who was attacked and robbed on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was left half-death alongside the road where a priest and a Levite walked and noticed him, but neither of them stopped to help. However, when a Samaritan noticed him, he decided to help him out. He took him to an inn which he paid for and cleaned him up and took care of him. He didn’t ask or get anything in return for his good deeds. The Good Samaritan’s acts were in benefit to the man who got robbed. It cost the Samaritan time money and effort and he never received anything in return. When Jesus told this parable, the idea was to teach us to be good neighbors to those around us, but the parable also presents a good example of what altruism is.
Altruism is doing something for anyone or anything and get zero benefit from it. Many people show this topic throughout their lives but there are also those who are not positive with this idea and expect something in return. True altruism is genuine, and those who demonstrate altruism in their lives have the capability to change the world.
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