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  1. #1
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    Nov. 20, 2010
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    Default What happened to altruism?

    Ok, so I have been single for a couple of years - still friends w/ the XSO. Tried the online dating thing. Not desperate, but a bit sad. Have just met so many who seem quite narcissistic.

    Was thinking about bringing this up next OT day, so here goes...

    What has happened to altruistic ideals? I'm not talking about a pillar of society who is a constant golden example - but how about having just some compassion, or ability to have empathy?

    XDH turned out to be a total narcissist. XSO not as bad, but also more so than I thought he'd be. Really little empathy - always talking about himself.

    Or is it just older fellows in general?? I seem to recall fellows with ideals, "way back when"...

    My family has been directly affected by Sandy. Sister's waterfront home severely flood damaged. Went down last week to give a hand with inventorying items - just so much easier with an additional person. Came back home, hair appointment yesterday with my baseball yakking, racecar watching hair dresser. Brought up Sandy. "Nope - just glad it didn't hit us."

    It really hit me that that quality is something I've really missed in a man in, well, many, many years. And even when I attempted to join several volunteer organizations as an adult, I am so turned off by those (men and women) seeking to be involved, to wear as a badge, rather than for the real purpose.

    This is not only just a lament that I can't find a fellow with this trait, but that so many don't seem to have empathy anymore.

    Finally, last week, was giving my 24 yo son a good talking to about looking for a better job, getting away from the house, the computer, etc. We have a good rapport, but since his father is in the city, he has lived there since college. Son has a lovely girlfriend. We have good communication. He actually said to me that he doesn't know how to really think about others. I thought, well, at least he recognizes it.

    I was even discussing with horsey friend the other day, that sometimes riding is so involved, it feels selfish at times. I am yearning for others who "get it". Frankly, probably why I am on this forum so much, as so many horse people seem to.

    Sorry for rambling. Your thoughts? Experiences? Comments?
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
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    Default

    "...but how about having just some compassion, or ability to have empathy?"

    I believe people are just worn out. The news only has bad stuff on it, people are worried about their own financial status and their own family. Worrying about strangers in NY/NJ just aren't all that high on average people's list of things to care about this week.

    It's unfair to be pissed with people because they aren't doing charity for the "right" reason...who cares as long as someone is doing good. Whether it's giving to charity to get the deduction or to get brownie points with their girlfriend, who cares.

    It's better to take care of your own life, horse, family and friends if you desire....
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


    11 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Oct. 28, 2007
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    Virginia
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    Default

    I agree with Trakehner on this

    When I start complaining about other people's behavior, it's a reminder to me to focus on my own deeds and outlook. Time to remind myself to be grateful. Especially this year, I have a job, Sandy didn't hit us, and everyone in my family is basically healthy.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Oct. 9, 2012
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    Washington State
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    Default

    Sorry, we are a 'take care of our own' family too although the other day in a parking lot a clean but scruffy man carrying a gascan approached me and asked if I could help him out. I gave him $5. Does that mean I did a good deed or got taken for a ride? Who knows, I hope he was legit but I am a bit of a cynic and think I am probably just a sucker who happened to have 5 bucks.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Default

    In answer to your question, OP, I'm voting for overpopulation.

    I think people spend so much time sorting among the people they meet, wondering if they can quickly fathom the character of the people that they meet, that they don't spend more time empathizing.

    I also think that people who engage in random acts of kindness feel relatively powerful and good about themselves. Not sure how many people who experience their life as one big competitive rat race feel that way.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    5 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Default

    Pretty sure it is directly related to the thumbs. Seems to be the root of all evil on this forum.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Sep. 5, 2007
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    From an anthropological point of view, altruism is something that is actually quite rare. Most primates will not do anything that will be a cost to themselves unless it is a benefit to their close relative or ally (who is usually a relative). Humans tend to be more altruistic than other primates, but in general, altruism is to basically make sure your genes survive


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Jul. 13, 2008
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    Default

    Possible reasons:

    1) As they age and experience scary or weird stuff, many people get guarded, and some people get really, really guarded.

    2) Many men seem to be living a private drama of themselves as victimized and targeted by scheming and ruthless takers. They can't be empathetic because 100% of their time is focused on protecting their own stuff - money, property, rights, whatever - from the evil takers who surround them. Sexist? Sure. Sexist society. Women can do this, but women mostly have some guilt software installed in the first 5 years.

    3) Men have one option women don't generally have - they can outsource their emotional life. I live in suburbia, land of the marrieds, and for every pleasant, friendly, married man who waves and says hi when you cross paths, there are about 10 married men who won't meet your eye, won't speak to you, and essentially has the wife to do 100% of the social work. That has to have an effect on how you perceive others, if you feel no pressure to make minor social contact with them.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Jan. 18, 2002
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    canada
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    Default

    I think everyone has become Oprafied. Its all about the me,me,me and what makes me feel better. In fact that is how children are being raised today, nothing bad, Johny's always perfect get a gold star. Somewhere we lost the ability to actually feel compasion for other people. It doesn't seem to be about the act of doing good, its more about how it builds my esteem by doing the act. I probably am not making this very clear. When i was younger my mother belonged to the ladies auxilary at the local church, constant fund raising was being done as it was a really small church and the members had to support it. I never once remember her spouting off about how it made her feel to do good. It was just done, it was expected. I think today we do things that are good but are only doing it for a reason. Men in general are a different breed, but I also think they to have bought into the whole me,me, thing, they to have been raised in the gold star system, so therefore, thats all they know. I don't find them really much different than women in that respect. They are subject to the ads in mags and media hoopla about live your best life. All these self help books, have just produced a society that is not content with themselves. We have become to inward in our thinking, when it should be more outward towards our fellow man.... not because it makes us feel good, but because thats life and thats just what you do.Just my opinion of course.....
    www.tayvalleyfarm.com
    My other home.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by texan View Post
    I think everyone has become Oprafied. Its all about the me,me,me and what makes me feel better. In fact that is how children are being raised today, nothing bad, Johny's always perfect get a gold star. Somewhere we lost the ability to actually feel compasion for other people. It doesn't seem to be about the act of doing good, its more about how it builds my esteem by doing the act. I probably am not making this very clear. When i was younger my mother belonged to the ladies auxilary at the local church, constant fund raising was being done as it was a really small church and the members had to support it. I never once remember her spouting off about how it made her feel to do good. It was just done, it was expected. I think today we do things that are good but are only doing it for a reason. Men in general are a different breed, but I also think they to have bought into the whole me,me, thing, they to have been raised in the gold star system, so therefore, thats all they know. I don't find them really much different than women in that respect. They are subject to the ads in mags and media hoopla about live your best life. All these self help books, have just produced a society that is not content with themselves. We have become to inward in our thinking, when it should be more outward towards our fellow man.... not because it makes us feel good, but because thats life and thats just what you do.Just my opinion of course.....
    Those with power can influence society in powerful ways. They like to feel envied and worshiped for all that they have, and preventing others from gaining what they have, protects the sense of importance that they otherwise wouldn't have without their financial security blankets.

    Altruism is a way of feeling good without needing to have anything but a good heart. The powerful egotists fear Altruism as it robs them of their self created god image, so they use their power to influence society to take on the image that serves their needs... Fostering the growth of Altruism in society would shed a bright light of clarity on the true nature of the powerful egotists and force them to see themselves for what they have become... They can't face the pain of that truth.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by texan View Post
    We have become to inward in our thinking, when it should be more outward towards our fellow man.... not because it makes us feel good, but because thats life and thats just what you do.
    Interesting perspective. I have been the lucky recipient of quite a bit of help over the past, well, decade or more. It has sometimes come from unexpected places. Today my car wouldn't start, I had the hood up and someone driving down the street stopped to ask if I needed help. It was nice.

    I have actually found myself doing a volunteer job and thinking to myself, "these people don't even appreciate it." I talked to the program director, who helped me see that, first of all, they probably did, but their problems were so big to them that they were unable to truly express gratitude. Secondly, my reason for volunteering didn't have to be so that *I* could feel good and appreciated. Someone had to point this out to me... humbling experience.

    On the weekend I was looking up an article about my grandfather. He'd been awarded a lifetime community service award, and all he could say was that his work in the community was the least he could do, because he had enjoyed such a wonderful life in that community.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


    4 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Feb. 24, 2011
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    Default

    In a lot of ways, I think it's because we don't need each other or interact personally with each other as much as we did in the past, even as recently as the 60s. I feel like neighborhoods used to be smaller, people bought things from stores where they knew the checker or the owner, you would loan your neighbor a cup of sugar, etc. We're busier and less connected to each other now, even though there are so many ways to connect.

    I've done the buy gas for the person at the gas station with a sign thing, help strangers carry stuff, give all my Halloween candy to the neighbor kid who didn't get to go trick or treating ... I frequently feel like it's not enough, I'm not making enough difference. But I can only do so much, only have so much time. If more people really looked at what's going on around them, how people act and feel, then take small action, maybe the world will get brighter.

    I dunno. I hate to show my blue here, but ... I think this inability to empathize is at the root of so many problems in our society. So many people are focused on not letting anyone else share anything they have and on getting more of it by whatever means ... Pain and suffering don't register in that world view. I don't think most people can truly recognize suffering without wanting to help, so I have to think that those people don't really see suffering.
    Last edited by ReveilleandRinsie; Nov. 22, 2012 at 01:55 AM. Reason: Typo
    Nanakorobi yaoki: Seven times fall, eight times rise.
    http://reveilleandrinsie.blogspot.com


    5 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReveilleandRinsie View Post
    I dunno. I hate to show my blue here, but ... I think this inability to empathize is at the root of so many problems in our society. So many people are focused on not letting anyone else share anything they have and on getting more of it by whatever means ... Pain and suffering don't register in that world view. I don't think most people can truly recognize suffering without wanting to help, so I have to think that those people don't really see suffering.
    I've read some literature wherein it speculated that many of the early industrialists of the late nineteenth century may have been sociopaths. I think that premise helps to explain how a ruthless businessman of that era could amass such a fortune and act so callously towards the workers who made those industries prosper.

    Think about the small village of thousands of years ago. Such ruthless destructive behavior would not have been conducive towards the overall survival to the entire village as a whole, and such a village member may have very likely been ostracized from the community for the good of the whole, whereas altruism would have been a cohesive force that made the village stronger.

    The freedom of dependance upon the good will of others is a modern occurrence. Money is a relatively modern concept in evolutionary terms. Yet today with money one can acquire the social support that in times of the past required trusting interpersonal relationships with other close community members.

    Could it be that money has become a surrogate for trust?

    Does altruism require an element of trust for the giver to make themselves vulnerable by virtue of the nature of what an altruistic act requires to be successful?


    3 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Jan. 27, 2004
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    I'm not sure sure "lack of altruism" is a new thing, or the good old days were that good. I happened to see part of the "Dustbowl" documentary that aired recently, and it was absolutely sickening how the people who moved to California were treated by those already living there. A lot of humans really suck.
    ---------------------------


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  15. #15
    CVPeg is online now Grand Prix Premium Member
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    Really enjoying reading these observations and/or theories. Plenty of food for thought.
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  16. #16
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    I say, keep looking.

    Returning to non-profit work has been jiggling around in my mind for a few years now. Over the summer I expressed this out loud on FB and within a few hours, had a job offer. I now work few hours a week for a guy who is the embodiment of altruistic. He made a tremendous amount of money at a young age, had some family money, and decided to spend his time and wealth to support fledgling NPOs. He is the real deal. Fun and funny, 100% hands on, effective ( he has a NPO cert from Duke), a real family guy, I just cant say enough good things about him. Meeting him has led to meeting lots and lots of people like him... They like to hang around together, doing good deeds they truly lead by example.

    So I say, keep looking. The people you wish to be around, are out there. They just are really busy getting it done LOL and dont look anything like what you might expect (dude above drives a beat up prius and wears holey clothes, he looks like a handyman). My other advice is to cull the people on your life who do not embody the characteristics you wish to surround yourself with. There is only so much energy and time available to you.

    For anyone struggling with how to develop in themselves these tendencies and traits, it is important to see it starts with treating yourself well. You cannot give what you do not have. I recommend the book "The Lost Art of Compassion". I reread this book about every six months to give myself a swift kick in the rear LOL
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    Pretty sure it is directly related to the thumbs. Seems to be the root of all evil on this forum.
    You get a public thumbs up!
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  18. #18
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    Perhaps one reason for the modern attitude of self-protectionism is the 24-7 news cycle and the fact that we almost never escape the intrusion of media into our thoughts. Constant bombardment with ideas like these:

    Economics is zero-sum
    You won't have a job
    You'll never have enough money to retire
    Food, plastics, drugs, everything is tainted and can't be trusted
    You can't trust the government or the clergy either
    You may already have a dreadful terminal disease
    The environment is collapsing, leading to
    The impending end of civilization as we know it
    Constant wars for senseless reasons
    Terrorists can be behind every trash can
    BE PREPARED!!!

    These are all media-generated thoughts constantly drummed into our heads which make us feel insecure--and many people aren't self-aware enough to separate a feeling of threat from its actuality. Madison Avenue and political candidates know very well that FEAR SELLS. It is easy to feel "besieged," and many do. There are just so many more things to worry about, that worrying about strangers falls to the bottom of the list. Human nature, I'm afraid.


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  19. #19
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    OP, maybe you should start volunteering with a nonprofit or two.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    I'm sure I will get many thumbs down for this, but....

    I see a big difference between country/small town/farm/ranch people and city people. Out here in the boondocks it seems like we are here for each other and meet the needs of others and pitch in to help.

    When my Mother needed full time assistance I told my Sister that I would take care of her and my husband and I would move in with her. I was stunned when my Sister said that "People don't do that any more, we need to find a "home" for her". What she was saying was that she and people with similar values to hers, were not willing to give anything up or change their lifestyle to be the caregiver for Mother.

    That is just one example. I think people are just so selfish and self centered now. It makes me sad but happy that I live in a rural community that old fashioned values still exist.
    Kanoe Godby
    www.dyrkgodby.com
    See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


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