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Word of the Week: Altruism

Georgia Military College Prep School
Word of the Week: Altruism
Week of October 11 – 17, 2015
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Definition: Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

Quotable Quotes:

“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.” - Ayn Rand

“Anonymity is the truest expression of altruism.” – Eric Gibson

“Not act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.” –Dalai Lama

“Generosity is giving more than you can and pride is taking less than you need.” – Kahlil Gibran

Let’s Get to the Point:
Do you like it when some does something nice for you when you least expect it?  It could be  something as simple as a card with a note in it or finding your favorite snack on your desk with  an “Enjoy” note taped to it.  How did it make you feel?  Did it put a smile on your face? Did it  make you want to do the same to someone else?  Many times we help others by just being there,  and that can make all the difference in world.  Altruism shows you care for others.  Isn’t that  what makes life more bearable?   
      
Putting Words into Action:
Everyone should perform a “Random Act of Kindness” daily.  Help a friend.  Send a note to someone you haven’t seen to in a while.  Offer to take the grocery cart for someone and save them a trip to the cart return.  Visit a sick friend. Sit and listen to someone who is having a tough day.  Take a neighbor’s Herbie Curbie back from the end of the driveway.  Do something on your ‘Honey Do” list.  Give someone a compliment.  Be nice.  Be thoughtful.  Help turn someone’s frown upside down!

Think About It:
We all appreciate a compliment.  So in return, pay it forward.  Give one to a deserving recipient.   Give a smile to someone who needs one.  Altruism just isn’t for others, it is also for us.   Showing this trait to others increases our own happiness 100%.  Canadian writer David Rakoff reminds us “Altruism is innate, but it's not instinctual. Everybody's wired for it, but a switch has to be flipped.”

 
Reflection

History is littered with martyrs and the selfless actions of warriors, and other men and women that defended something they loved till their last breath. Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, and Gandhi are just a few of the outstanding examples of this trait.  Altruism is the lack of concern for ones wellbeing when it comes to defending or caring for another. Soldiers show altruism by defending their country and families with their own lives. Mothers and fathers protect their children with their lives on a daily basis. There are a growing number of single mothers who have given all their free time to take on two or three different jobs that leave her stressed and ragged by the end of the day. She works so that she can keep food on the table and provide a better life for her children.  She works so her children’s lives maybe better than the one she had.  Society sees this as a norm now that poverty plagues every aspect of society. 

Altruism is sometimes lost in the day to day life of individuals ranging in age from five to ninety five.  You may not see many young men and women running out in the pouring rain to sacrifice their own comfort to give an elderly man, or a mother and young child, the umbrella they were using. Though altruism may not be common like it was in years gone by, it is still present in today’s society. There are those who will go out of their way to help someone in need without thinking of their own health. There are also thousands of young people signing up for the Peace Corps or Armed Forces to help America help those less fortunate.  Altruism is alive in the mothers and fathers who attend to their children with the utmost care and the devotion that is due to every child at birth. Altruism is born out of love and respect for another person.  As author Ka Chinery pointed out, “In the end, the only thing that really matters is how we treated all living things.”

C/2LT Ashley Donnelly is a student at Georgia Military College Prep School