Altruism Is Important in Society

Topics: Charles Darwin, Psychology, Human behavior Pages: 5 (1250 words) Published: September 17, 2009
Knowing and Knowledge 1 ACX1001

Semester 1 2009

Longer Essay:

Why is kindness or altruism important for society?

Roselyn Weereratne

Student: 3801157

Tutor: Joyce

Tute: 17:30 Monday

Why is kindness or altruism important for society?

Altruism may be defined as a basic selfless attitude that may attribute to those providing initial intervention (Ronel, 2006).

For a society or community to thrive, prosper and grow minimum expectations must exist for the individuals of that community to be happy. Rules and laws are in place to govern the ways in which we should act socially, ethically and morally. Among such principles is an expectation to be fair and kind to those around oneself, as you yourself would like to be treated. Therefore kindness is a key factor that is important and does affect society.

Societies, communities, countries and people have expanded and grown through many stages of time. From the barbaric ages to the modern industrial and technological ages, but it has not been without the expenses of others. 3rd world countries for example have suffered as the industrialized countries grew. The industrialized peoples benefited from structured legal systems, which resulted in minimum expectations of the people to be polite and kind in society in order to remain apart of the society, even today. In 3rd world countries individuals use self-preservation to survive because there is no structured government or society to provide kindness through means of housing, food or health care.

We are all people, no matter what class, culture or background and as explained by Peter Singer in ‘The life you can save – Acting now to end world poverty’, there are far greater moral rewards in giving more of ourselves than a bare minimal. The example used here is that Warren Buffet contributed $31 Billion dollars in donations. As enormous as the amount is, as the wealthiest man alive, he could afford far more. His personal wealth is worth 3 times that of the collective Unites States Economy.

The point made is that people die every year from preventable causes. Kindness can remedy many of these cases. Could we give a little more of ourselves?

According to Phillip and Taylor's article ‘Kindness is the key to happiness’, the changes in mankind’s psyche to individualism may explain some of the changes. Historically it was taught to ‘love thy neighbour as you would yourself’. Therefore altruism was previously a trait that existed with most people, where kindness would prevail for the greater good of the society.

It is documented that society today is now more based on individualist principles. That before we can help others we must help ourselves. With this mentality this is where society has fallen down. Dividing the communities, placing people into categories of wealthy and poor. The rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer. Why did such a change in mindset occur?

Charles Darwin explained that the issue for society was that its members needed to assist other members. However those who act for selfish reasons often were at an advantage compared to those who were kind.

As a result Charles Darwin whilst on his famous expedition aboard the HMS Beagle to circumnavigate the world, delivered much powerful works, of which are used as a basis for many theories today, such as Darwinism. Desmond, A (2009). Darwin believed in humanity and that all peoples deserve to be free, as at the time massive movements of slavery existed globally, which Darwin was privy too, simply inspired him more so to begin charitable movements.

Charity has grown wider in the course of civilization and is seen as an act of kindness. At higher stages of civilization the duty of charity embraces a wider group of people, in proportion to the largeness of the social unit or to the religion. Religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism make charity a duty and an act of high praise. But even in modern times, our poor are...

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Desmond , Adrian (2009) ‘Amazing Grace’ The Australian Finance Review 6/2/2009
Natti Ronel, Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Boaz M. Ben-David and Alan S. York ‘Perceived Altruism: A Neglected Factor in Initial Intervention’ Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol 2009; 53; 191 originally published online Jan 15, 2008; (accessed May 21, 2009).
Ronel, N. (2006). “When good overcomes bad: The impact of volunteers on those they help - Human Relations”, 59(8), 1133-1153.
Rubin, Paul H. "Public goods and the evolution of altruism." Politics & the Life Sciences 26, no. 2 (September 2007): 26-32. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed May 22, 2009).
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