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Altruism is defined as regard for and concern for the welfare of others. An Altruist is defined as one who adheres to the practice of altruism.  A problem exists in our society in the interpretation of actions versus intentions.  The premise I take here is that a person cannot perform an altruistic act that does not fulfill a personal intent to commit it.  Thus the definition of altruism contradicts itself.  Since the person performing the altruistic act has an internal motivation to perform it, he is doing it to fulfill some personal need.  Even though the act may be commendable and altruistic in nature to an observer, the person cannot be considered altruistic because the act provided a personal fulfillment to that individual. It's a dichotomy that is self evident upon examination.

How does this effect us in our every day inter relations? Well, for one thing, we find well meaning "do gooders" in our society, whether it be politicians, clergy, environmentalists, no-growthers, pro-growthers, etc. advocating their particular positions for the benefit of all the others in our society and the world.  They frequently work towards implementing their possibly well meant positions of advocation with any means at their disposal, supposedly for the betterment of society, not taking into consideration the fact that they, at the same time, are in actuality usurping the rights of those whom they are proclaiming to benefit.

In government we find decisions being made regarding the welfare of the citizenry based upon the collective opinion
of those employed in it, influenced by both financial supporters and ideology.  They determine that this or that benefit is what should be provided some arbitrary group or class, motivated upon the opinion that this is what is good for them. Whether it be done for personal gain or stated altruistic desire is inconsequential because the point is the fact that the intention was not necessarily motivated by the receiver of the benefit.  

Better yet the question should be, “isn't government usurping the individual that right of self determination by deciding for them the benefit they need?"  Further, providing it must be at the expense of those not receiving the handout, even if this individual should seek it out.   As has proved itself with past welfare programs that government has provided, meant to be in the best interest of a collective group, have turned out to be just the opposite.

History clearly shows that leaders of socialistic governments, self serving while bestowing on themselves the mantle of public servants, have been unable to fulfill their promise of an improved standard of living for the masses.  Yet we still find in our country an adherence to the principles of this altruistic form of social organization.  What appears obvious is that there lacks in our society a rational ability to understand that a person committing an altruistic act does not make that person an altruistic person.  To emphasize the point, there can be no such thing as an altruistic person, only a person that commits altruistic acts.

Unfortunately nothing is being done to provide students the ability to rationally understand the difference between the selfish motive of one committing an altruistic act and the act itself - and - if the results of that act may in fact be detrimental rather than beneficial to its recipients.

Perhaps this essay may motivate readers to promote this understanding in conversation with others for the purpose of generating further dialog regarding this important fundamental truism.
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