Altruism Doesn’t Exist

If you want more Morag this week, on Wednesday I wrote a post for Maenads of the (R)Evolution in reaction to the bruhaha surrounding Star Foster’s relinquishment of the term pagan. It’s called Respecting Agency, and it’s awesome, because I’m awesome. True story.

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I am so damn tired of people extolling us to be nice to each other for altruistic purposes.

This happens a lot in pagandom. Or it has, at least, in my experience. As if sacrificing all thought of self and only living for others would somehow prove to people who believe us to be evil that we’re not.

It’s not going to. People believe what they want to believe, plain and simple. All you can do is live rightly and hope that it’s enough for folks.

That doesn’t necessarily mean being altruistic all the time.

Put simply, altruism doesn’t exist. Or it shouldn’t. Nothing one does should ever be done for selfless reason, with no thought to one’s own wellbeing.

There is nothing wrong with being selfish. There is nothing wrong with thinking of yourself first.

If you truly are acting altruistically all the time…get therapy. Seriously. Because the secondary definition of altruism is acting for others at one’s own expense. That’s not healthy. At all. (And yes, I speak from experience.*)

You have to think about yourself. You have to take care of yourself. (In FlameKeeping, this is called tending the Dark Flame. I’m not a FlameKeeper, but many of my friends are.)

If you give to charity because it makes you feel good, guess what? You’re not being altruistic.

If you post trigger warnings because you don’t want to be an asshole, guess what? That’s still not altruism.

If you help others because your gods tell you to, and you want Their good opinion of you…still not altruism.

And that’s fine. The fact that you’re not doing these actions purely out of a need for others to be happy doesn’t suddenly invalidate what you’re doing. Those are all still good actions. Intent isn’t magic.

So far as I’m concerned, there’s no point to doing anything unless it benefits me — either immediately, or down the line.

I call this enlightened self-interest, and it drives most of my decisions.

I don’t stay friends with people if there’s nothing in it for me. If they constantly take advantage of me, never are there for me, never call, never write…there’s no benefit for me to stay friends with them.

I take care of myself first. You know why? Because I am the only person I’m going to have a lifelong relationship with. I am the priority. I am my own Primary.

Altruism is the path to martyrdom, and if it’s what you’re selling I don’t want any. I’m worth more than that.

 

*Altruism is what kept me in an abusive relationship with my bio-sire for so long. Towards the end, it was really only for his sake.

3 Comments


  1. I recommend “The Order War” by LE Modessett jr. It’s the fourth book in the “Saga of Recluse” fantasy series. One chapter in particular addresses this issue. I’d quote it directly, but I don’t have it handy. The main relevant point, is that a truly selfless person is merely a selfish person in quest of selflessness.

    Also, if you don’t mind mingling economic politics with your theology, this article from the Objective Standard supports your premise nicely. It is vulnerable to typical Atheistic and Scientific blindness on some things, but otherwise not bad.
    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2008-winter/capitalism-moral-high-ground.asp

    Reply

    1. I will definitely check out the book series; I’ve had Modessitt recommended to me before.

      And nope, I don’t mind mingling economic politics with theology (theology goes with /everything/, in my view), and so will read that article as soon as I have the spoons to. :)

      Thanks!
      The Spinner recently posted…Quote of the Day, January 16th, 2013My Profile

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  2. Sacred Selfishness is what I call it. Other mentors have called it the WIIFM radio station – what’s in it for me? We’re all tuned to it, all the time. And like you said, that’s ok. Because if your cup is empty, you can’t truly help/serve others. Or like they tell you on flights – put your own mask on before assisting others.
    Mary recently posted…How did that happen?My Profile

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