Rachel Johnson

Atheist Blogger- the godlessvagina / Podcaster the pink atheist

Altruism: Practice what you preach.

1 Comment

 

We often hear about religiousImage people acting in kindness. Lets face

it, the volunteer to go to other countries and put up housing for the poor. The install electric, and work in hospitals. In short they are kind. It seems very warm and fuzzy on the outside. And really a good deed done is worth the respect.

 

All that work comes at a price though. When they come in with their aid, they also bring their religion. It is one of the problems I have with religious volunteering. A good deed should be good because it was the right thing to do, not because when you are done you can sell your religion and force people to convert out of guilt. After all they were born into poverty, and you took time out of your privileged life to go and help them. I can respect the means but not the method.

 

Christians often make trips to South America. They take bibles and translators. They go and do good deeds and then sell their god, and their hopes of a life after this one. Well I may not be sure how many people bought Donald Trump’s book, but I do know that all those people are not millionaires now. The same with poor people. They bought your god, but did it end their suffering? It may seem like the right thing to do, giving them hope for a world after this where they will have everything, but you are cheating them out of this life.

 

What if instead of people believing that the next life would be good, they worked harder for this one to be good, for everyone? What if instead of worrying about getting into an exclusive heaven people worried about making sure their neighbor was fine? What if instead of saying that it is fine to suffer in this life we all said that it must end, and worked towards it?

 

I would rather be faced with the reality of today, and the hope for the future of this world, then a dream of one the does not exist. I would rather give thanks to the many hands that help me and help them back, then wait for a miracle to. I volunteer and don’t try to convert people when I do. I just enjoy them and make them feel welcome and happy. Because my reward is knowing that today I got to be kind to another human being, and might have made them feel special. Just like they do for me when they smile, and see me as a friend.

 

I realize that people want to be good, but if I was on your door selling you a ticket to heaven and all it costs you is a lifetime of swallowing suffering, I hope that you would choose to be happy. I could only wish that the better part of you would see how luck we are all to be here. After all millions of lives never got to be. Natural selection chose us because we were better able to survive than others and we should share that joy.

 

Atheists are good people, and I know of many that spend their time in love and care for others. It is a trend we should keep going and start growing. So be proud to be an atheist, and proud to do charity. I look forward to more days of helping and loving my fellow humans. Because no matter what divides us, one thing keeps us close together and  that is our simple need for each other and love.

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Author: Rachel Johnson

I am a writer about atheist issues. Separation of the church and state. Women and their right to choose, and sex. I talk about all of the "taboos" of modern life as well as evolution and science.

One thought on “Altruism: Practice what you preach.

  1. Ah, altruism. A strange word and a misunderstood concept.

    For reasons I will not yet bore you with [I’ll need much longer to do that!] I have spent six and half out of the last seven yours in Africa. Libya, Madagascar, Swaziland, Zambia, Gabon, Congo with a smattering of time in Algeria and a quick skip into Cairo [three days, literally] to pop my head in and see a pyramid. DUring my time, I have encountered a vast array of people and an oddly large number of ‘ex-pats’. Some, like me, were working. Building things, mending things, creating things, generally doing things.

    But a frighteningly large number were there delivering Aid. In Kinshasa, Congo DRC, Big Congo, Belgian Congo, Zaire, choose your nomenclature, I encountered people who were working for the following: UNHCR, UN Aid, US Aid, EU Aid, Aid Delivered on Behalf of the People of the United Kingdom, [yes, it really did say that on the side of the Land Cruisers] some more more obscure ones that I forget. Or have blurred from memory.

    One person I met told me why he was doing it. Because the people of Congo need the help. Because they need the skill transfer. Because the Gov’ can not be trusted. All very fine. Very laudable. Very upright and decent. He also said it made him feel good that he was helping others, trying to improve the lot of others.

    The delivery of Aid in large parts of the world is very big business. It helps keep the wheels of commerce and employment running smoothly. But, and this is the point, it also helps ease the consciences of those who are ‘at the sharp end’, on the ground in delivery. More importantly, it also eases the pangs of guilt of those who are providing the money, the Gov’s who provide the cheques and the tax payers who indirectly sanction the payments by making warm cooing noises when the political elite stand up in front of the great unwashed masses to tell everybody just how gracious they are for providing the aid.

    Aid, and altruism are, I believe wonderful evolutionary survival techniques. I’ll scratch your back, so don’t kill me. I’ll do something for you, so you’ll do something for me. Altruism is essentially a selfish act, an act to make you feel good, which in turn makes you less of a treat to me. The act of spreading religion, for me, goes hand in hand with this logic. If we talk the same language, if we ‘believe’ the same stories, if we can both look up for a common deity we can have the same shared experience, and, the logic follows, the same set of common values. And from there, you’ll accept my altruism more easily and supress your urges to put me in a pot. Why, because our common god will chastise you for doping this to me, either in this life, of the next.

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