On Altruism

I am not a very empathetic person. I do cringe occasionally when I see people in pain, but that is a psychophysical reaction which does not have to do with empathy. I am capable of random acts of kindness. In the case of the recent tsunami that occurred in Japan, I felt compelled to donate to the Red Cross, and I did. I do feel some empathy, but it is not as much as other people and I often cannot comprehend why someone would risk their life to save another human being, aside from believing that human life is valuable. It may seem immoral to you, but it is simply that I do not feel enough empathy.

Perhaps it is because I do not spend much time around people, or my preconceptions about people reinforce
my lack of empathy. Perhaps it is both, or perhaps it is biological and I just can’t feel as much empathy as other people can. I have been professionally diagnosed with Aspergers disorder, so it is possible and likely that I cannot. Not only that, but the only emotion I can seem to express outwardly is frustration (when I am playing music, such as Rachmaninoff or Chopin, I am able to express many more emotions outwardly). When I am upset about something, I shut down and feel as though Iam unable to speak or think.

I have recently been thinking about donating blood. As I do want to be more useful to society,  I think this would be a step forward. There are no long term health risks unless I do it too frequently, and I’m not sure if you’re even allowed to do it that frequently. Since I cannot necessarily feel a lot of empathy for the people I would be donating blood for, I am doing it for other reasons. I do want a world in which people would be more kind to one another, and more generous. That is not to say that  I want selfishness to be completely eliminated, but I think we need a balance of both.

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~ by theuncynic on July 2, 2012.

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