Friday, 19 July 2013

Interlude: Altruism

So basically. I'm so glad to be surrounded by awesome friends who care about me, even though I've only known them for like... a week. Awesome enough to quickly turn up and be there for me in my time of need. I felt all warm and fuzzy, which was really nice. I suppose I do get a break once a while, especially given my conduct. But let's not get into the details here.

People say I'm really nice and all, but I try to brush it off anyway. I suppose it's because I feel like it's a perfectly normal thing to do. Yet it's not something that happens nearly often enough with peoples' interactions with outsiders/strangers - people you are not familiar with, people who are not your friends.

I wish I lived in a world where the things I did were utterly ordinary, commonplace. Maybe even below average. There are probably an awful lot of people out there with greater resources than I who lack that perspective... This particular thought only occurred to me while I was dining by myself in a fancy restaurant in the hotel.

That's not to say I'm even close to being an exemplar of altruism, goodwill and all that. I'm living in a fancy hotel during my stay in Hong Kong (though to be fair, that was arranged by the program coordinators) and enjoying all the benefits of my holiday (not academic, because the material is stupidly simple). I donate a fair chunk to the Red Cross every month, and still, I know it's not enough. I spend a lot of money on things that make me happy, when that money could be so much more effective elsewhere...

I think this whole train of thought was caused by a recent revisiting of an important TED Talk, one which was actually genuinely life-changing for one of my buddies. I was showing it to one of the program participants while we were on the topic of living a fulfilled life, one that makes the most of your finite days. He's a smart fellow... Methinks he is very insightful and wise beyond his years. He also happens to be a much better example of an enlightened, mature and altruistic person than me (when he isn't faffing about XD).

Anyway. Here's the video.

I can't rewatch it right now to give a very good summary, but instead I'll go by what I remember. Damn lack of free wifi.

So basically, for many people there are a few barriers to giving, or giving more:

1. How much of a difference can I make?
2. Am I expected to abandon my career?
3. Isn't charity bureaucratic and ineffective anyway?
4. Isn't it a burden to give up so much?

I suppose each of them are valid questions when you haven't considered charity all that much.

Anyway, I'm sure my readers back home have abundant internet quotas to play with so I won't rehash anything said in there. Please do watch it, and think about it carefully in your own time...

I think it's a particularly powerful way to get people thinking, and at least for some it's been a revelation. Truly, it is amazing what I can do as a mere uni student. I can actually transmit important information even though it's so far removed from the location and the time in which the information itself was disseminated.

But yeah. I believe it's a good start to living a fulfilled life.

Man this trip has made me do a lot of thinking. Proof that travel can be quite life-changing and productive :P


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