"The Value of Altruism, It Can Be Returned"

By Belinda Hee
June 20, 1983


This report deals with an example of spiritual drives. In respect to the ennead matrix it belongs to zone seven, which is about compassion or altruism. I will examine my responses on conservation before and after I watch a slide show on maintaining a library book.

In my younger days, I used to borrow books by the stacks. My parents often took me to the regional library and helped me borrow them. In this way, they were taking the responsibility over me, making sure I wouldn't deface or lose any of the books. The books were always returned in time. As a child, I was taught to be considerate and to take good care of other people's property , but I've lost that responsibility. I do think of being considerate but I don't do much action about it. Now that I'm old enough to borrow books on my own, I rarely do, and I also rarely return them on time. It must be laziness, I never thought of it as being selfish to other students who would like to borrow the same books. I just would pay the fine and return the books whenever I didn't have to go out of my way to go to the library.


What did I get out of the slide show on book conservation? Actually, the information given were already known, except when you take a book off its shelf. You should push in the two outer books to take out the middle book instead of taking out that book from the top of the hinges. This would bend the cover at its hinges. The other details I knew were: I shouldn't bend book covers past their limit, write notes on the pages, highlight the important facts, and not to carry too high of a stack of books because the books should be kept in good condition for other borrowers.


As a result from this whole project I learned that not only when I borrow the library's book but other people's property as well, that I should take care of it better than if it was my own, and return the items before or on time so that others can also use them. Doing this project made me remember about a book I borrowed from a friend a year ago. By the way, I still have it. I only meant to borrow it for a class two semesters ago, but I never seemed to return it to her yet, even though I saw her several times already. She never seemed to care about it either. Once I said I'd bring it to school but she didn't want to carry it home. That was the only effort I made to return the book. Now, whenever I clean my room or look at my stack of school books, I see hers with them too. It makes me feel guilty and this report has reminded me that I shouldn't carry that guilt any longer. I should make the effort to return the book to her doorstep with politeness as she generously lent me her book. I should show her the altruistic part of me that does good things for others. The case mentioned above is not how I treat all borrowed items. In fact, when I borrow other people's clothing I return them as soon as I wash them. I make it a point to return clothes as soon as possible so my friends can wear their own clothes and not be limited to what they can wear. I know that I would like to have my clothes returned as soon as possible too. I hate to look for a certain clothing and then remember that I let somewhere borrow it a few weeks ago. I also abhor to remind others that they have my things and that I need them quickly. Reminding others, especially for my own benefit is a chore. They might think I'm tight or impolite. Overall, this project has reminded me the value of altruism.


In relation to the ennead matrix, I will describe how altruism fits the automatic, reflective and spiritual self. Altruism(using good uses), selfism (using bad uses), and anything in III level is an axiom. This is when there's a difference in theories. Your automatic self is automatic and has no freedom to choose what you love. Your reflective self is theoretical. It does the reasoning like in cases to be nice to others. For example, "I better be nice to her now, so she can help me when I need her.'1 Your spiritual self is axiomatic. There is maximum freedom and no one can force you to select anything. The automatic self and the reflective self is influenced by spiritual self. First something happens inside and then something happens outside. In this project, the books is the automatic self of the ideas. The reflective self is reasoning why you should return the books on time and unmarked. And the spiritual self is the principle of doing good for others. As soon as we know our axioms, we make a choice. If we don't like it, we change it. Then we harmonize other axioms to suit it. The more we become aware, the better. Altruism is a high drive, so the more abstract you get, the more you need to rationalize to help you decide.


Looking back at how I used to return library books and how I now return library books is a big difference. Through the slide show of book conservation, I have realized the altruistic part of me that was almost lost. My views on returning other people's items has turned around. Now, I think of how I would feel if that person borrowed my things and treated it like I did theirs or didn't return it for a long time like I sometimes do. It was to my advantage to attend Dr. James' class that day he showed the slides.

Now I can see why some of my friend's friendships have decreased. At first they say that they don't mind sharing clothes, especially if they're roommates. Then, as one person takes that advantage and borrows the other persons clothing more often her clothes gets borrowed and she doesn't keep up with
the washings, arguments start to appear! The person who inconsiderately takes advantage of her roommate is thought to be unselfish, impolite, and only thinking of herself. She should take up this course or acknowledge the word altruism.

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