A Better Tomorrow
Altruism is the focus of our series this Pentecost. We are talking about how we turn ordinary living into something extraordinary. Known as the “Ordinary Time”, Pentecost challenges us to not only “talk the talk, but walk the walk.” Why do we do it, though?
Selflessness or altruism is not a new concept. It has been around for as long as there have been living things on the earth. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are full of videos of animals helping other animals, even those outside of their own species. A mother cat adopts a baby squirrel or rabbit; A lion befriends a bear or a dear; a dog and cat are not only playmates but bunk together. There is even a video of a four-footed animals splashing water on a fish that somehow ended up on dry land, saving the fish’s life – that is, once the human put down the camera and helped the fish back into the water.
That last example is a great illustration of how, sadly, many of us react and act. Taking the video was more important to the person than instantly helping the dog save the fish’s life. After a minute, the human did step in but – seriously, if your life was in danger, would you want a video recording of it to be the primary goal or would you want someone to put down the camera and help save your life?
An integral part of good living and living well is to develop a healthy mental state. Mental well-being affects everything we do and everyone around us and with whom we do things in life. There are two clichés I want to use to illustrate this.
The first is “It is better to give than to receive.” Scientific research has proven this is actually true. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to do something for someone else. In one study multiple sclerosis patients were encouraged to participate in support groups as mentors for those newly diagnosed with the disease. It was expected that the newly diagnosed would gain support from the group. What was not expected were the health benefits on those serving as mentors. They showed improved health, greater function and mobility and an improved outlook not only on themselves but also on the future.
The second cliché is “What goes around comes around.” History has proven this but so has science. While we make advances in science, medicine, and technology every day, we also keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, culture to culture, and century to century. Doing something for another builds a strong sense of community and that community will in turn support you when it is needed.
None of knows what the next few hours will bring but when we have a positive attitude, feel capable, and are a part of a community of caring people, we are better able to cope and face the future. That makes the world a better place and might just help rewrite some of those past mistakes so that we stop repeating them. We do this thing called altruism because we want a better tomorrow.