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Old 08-05-2006, 02:09 PM
  # 30 (permalink)  
equus's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: uk
Posts: 3,054
I'm really glad I started this and that I did it honestly with what I felt. It's started so much discussion, all of which I want to join that I'm going to have to be careful not to wind up with a nonsense post!!

I think altruism is selfish but I'm happy with that, it doesn't worry me that it's the case because it makes sense to me. We're group animals, hard wired to co-operate, and not made to suvive well in prolonged isolation (hence solitary confinement being a world wide popular torture/punishment). I think my happiness does to some extent depend on what I can offer. I know from experience the pleasure of a new sofa soon wears off, it's nice but 'it' ceases to make me happy - I can compare that to memories where whether by luck or intent I've been able to give back a smile and that REALLY makes me happy, that's lasting. I think about the body and how it reacts physiologically to anger, hatred, violence, and fear; over time the impact is negative. On the other hand I look at the physiological impact of affection, generosity, and warmth - they bring with them physical health and can be lived with for years without harm. So I believe altruism is selfish but as it's MUTUALLY beneficial I don't worry about it - I'm happier smiling at people!

To help MYSELF NOT live in anger I remember that behaviour in any one time doesn't define a person, I know I've done some awful things BUT I'm not awful. I am ALL of me not just as an adult but all of my past and all of my future, I'm learning and I can do my best, when I don't do my best I can accept I'm not perfect. I try to look at anyone else the same way but as this post demonstrates I don't always succeed.

I've read books that have changed my life, the Dalai Lama on ethics, and seen films that altered me so much I came out different to when I went in - I watched Ghandi as a child, the only white child in the packed cinema. When I read Oliver Sacks his affection for people seeps off every page, as does his curiosity and implicit awareness of 'trying' to explain/understand something rather than dictating understanding.

There are so many things that bother me reading Peck's book - but maybe I should spend less of the time angry at him and instead try to understand what has made this book so popular. However I have no wish to assimilate his thinking into my own, I believe he is not someone to follow or to trust as any kind of guide.

My favourite Guide is my Sri Lankan taxi driver friend who said strong words are when the heart and mouth speak the same language, not two like a politician!! He reckoned if you can learn to mean what you say - which includes knowing what your words mean, then you can offer something by talking. It's a hard task, I had no idea how hard but it is interesting and it makes sense!
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