A younger relative of mine is flirting with the larger ideologies of our greatest minds. Altruism & benevolence being two of them. She posted looking for an honest debate about if these concepts are real & I am reminded of when I too tossed these ideas around, I think I arrived at the conclusion that altruism was not real.
I weighed in on the topic posted, and replied to the question, "do altruism & benevolence exist", yes & yes. As I sorted through my mind, I realized, my belief has changed. When did I become an optimist? Before James died, I didn't believe people could change, I never had faith in strangers, believed staunchly in bystander apathy and had begun to work hard to suppress my own instincts to help others. Wow, reflecting on this, I was living a dark, unenlightened path for more reasons then I am willing to delve into here but sad all the same. Then, my life was shattered, everything I believed, all the life lessons learned, everything I had worked for, demolished when James died. Then came the choices no parent wants to ever have to make. The ones that we have all made, second guessed, regretted & wished could have been different. And then, in the midst of the darkness came the light. The kindness of those who I had all but sold out, strangers. Strangers from every corner bursting with compassion, love, support, patience and brought the light with them.
So as I wondered about altruism, I realized this new found optimism is a result of my son. Out of his death has come a belief in people. Strange. At the time of his death, I would have not believed this could be possible.
As I watched the debate about whether these concepts exist, I thought about all those of us who have had to make horrible medical decisions for our children, chose death for our children, make the choices knowing our children are already dead, and have come to believe that it is we the benevolent. It is us, the altruistic. It is us the community of international bereaved parents who are trying to heal & grieving together, healing each other. Through our blogs, comments, reflections we make each others children's lives matter & there is no greater gift and in my mind nothing more altruistic in the world.