Selfish altruism / by Evan La Ruffa

Sometimes I wonder if my altruism is selfish, and whether or not that matters. In a very basic way, I believe most of us lean toward one of the following worldviews:

  1. Life is hard and it's important to keep people out so they don't screw you, or
  2. By giving we receive way more than we ever could have hoped for.

I put the word 'selfish' next to the word 'altruism', mostly to get your attention. But there is indeed a volley happening between the way we view the world and the way the world vibrates with or against us.

If you think people will be trouble, they are.

If you think people will help you be more than you ever could alone, they will.

In that sense, altruism isn't actually selfish, but it is self-replicating and exponential. I can attest that I've found altruism or an emphasis on giving, to be the most personally beneficial factor in my life (that I'm in full control of).

For those of us who know that everything is going to be OK, we have the luxury of being able to focus on the positive ripples we can make, as opposed to clawing for our slice.

Since selfish altruism is really just altruism, I say we risk it.