The Freedom of Social Altruism Vs. Selfish Social Conformism


Human lives are delicate things. Whilst we all might resemble each other biologically – in some form or another – we each create a separate existence for ourselves. Throughout the course of our lives, we learn to shape our opinions through the countless experiences we are exposed to and whilst there may not be a definitive line between what is seen as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ worldview, most of us tend to fall somewhere on that spectrum. I’m not suggesting that the majority of people are ‘living their lives wrong’ or that they’re following a moral compass that is slightly askew, but it is my opinion that there have only been a few truly ‘righteous’ people since the spawning of our entire species.

It is incredibly difficult to define what is actually meant by the word ‘righteous’ in that sense. It is equally difficult to provide the word ‘altruism’ with a definition that offers the proper amount of depth and existential worth that it fully warrants. The Oxford English Dictionary defines altruism as:

A disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.”

Image: lonelynmisunderstood on deviantart
Image: lonelynmisunderstood on deviantart

As the definition infers, altruism isn’t just showing concern for the lives of the people around you, it is doing so with a disinterest in your own needs. A truly altruistic act is classified by the fact that it is executed with absolutely no merit for the person carrying out said act. An altruist does not consider themselves in any way in these given situations – they act purely in the interest of another person.There is something very compelling about altruism as a concept. The mere thought of it as a whole seems unbelievable, especially in the context of society’s general attitude.

So, what is ‘Selfish social conformism’? Well, it is an outlook; one by which a lot of us choose to live our lives. To be a social conformist is to live by the ‘unwritten rules’ that mainstream society is built on – following each of the acceptable ‘norms’. These norms apply to several areas of life: Occupation, family life, personal life… Even trivial details such as interests and dress sense are not immune to the strict code that an individual must subscribe to.

It is an unfortunate fact that, by following the path of normalcy, many individuals save themselves a lot of trouble. The ‘alternative’ way of life is known to be riddled with obstacles. There may be judgement in the form of a road block and prejudice of all kinds lining up on either side, preparing to force you into their mould and smooth out your uniqueness. I am not merely speculating over what is to be found along the way – I am speaking from experience. Personally, I have never aimed to earn the hallowed title of ‘normal’. It would seem that I gained a head-start in the opposite direction; as though I defected from normality the second I arrived on this earth. Does it concern me that I am up for scrutiny amongst ordinary folk? Not in the slightest. Although, I will admit that I have not always embraced my differences. I have felt the expected amount of self-doubt and been through many experiences – many of which I came out of in a much less than graceful fashion – that definitely made me question the point in being ‘proud to be different’. But luckily, once I found my feet again, I began to realise what I had previously overlooked: Being the human embodiment of the word ‘anomaly’ is actually a rare opportunity. It enables me to look at the world in a different light. It also inspired me to think about why we have to categorise the plethora of different aspects of each person by what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

This is where the concept of social altruism comes in. It’s simple really, and it definitely does not require a person to follow any strict guidelines. The idea is to simply try. Try to understand that – whilst we are all simple humans – we all have our own complex set of emotions that are as individual as our fingerprints. With these emotions, there are separate aspirations and interests. No matter how different another person’s ideals are, it would be nice if we could all learn to embrace those differences, rather than ousting every single person who isn’t ‘conforming’.

Happiness is, in my opinion, a fundamental human right, and by viewing other people’s happiness from another perspective life seems a lot easier. By allowing each of our fellow humans to continue in their pursuit of happiness without any unnecessary interruptions; without forcing them to justify themselves – and by doing this without even needing to give it a single thought – we are acting selflessly. We are giving each other the gift of compassion.

It would be under this set of social circumstances that we would all be able to enjoy life away from the watchful eyes of judgement and threats of societal persecution. We would respect each other’s right to be happy and allow each other to express our feelings freely.

Throughout history, this world has seen many examples of mass persecution at the hands of those who were ignorant to the concept of humility. To this day, there are societies who take the defence of their warped ideals to inconceivable levels of barbarity. Although our own society will never take itself to such a dark place – a place in which a person may be killed for possessing a trait that is out of their control – we still have a long, long way to go.

Essentially, the fact of the matter is this: Bigotry is outdated. A better future must emerge from the ruins of a much more cynical society.