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ALTRUISM


The supposedly virtuous act of giving is often instead an act meant to create an obligation, an act whereby the giver measures himself against the receiver and requires a repayment, even if that repayment is gratitude.

A  Navajo couple in New Mexico had a child after hoping for one for many years.  The child died, and the mother was plunged into a deep chasm of grief.  She became reclusive, and could not gather enough strength to do even basic tasks.  She was told that she would never bear another child, and her family despaired that she would ever be the same.

Her much younger unmarried sister suddenly disappeared, which made the woman’s melancholy even worse.  No one knew where she had gone, or with whom.  No one else was missing from their village.

One day nearly a year later, the sister reappeared with a tiny baby girl.  She gave no explanation as to what had transpired during her absence, but later it was learned that she had met a Yaqui Indian man who had agreed to be the father of a child with her.  This was the child that she brought to give to her grieving sister.

This then, was a very high form of altruism.   (This is a true story of people I have known.)

Navajo Mother & Child  by KSR

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2 comments on “ALTRUISM

  1. Why do I feel a deep sadness in both woman and child? Is it the memories of all the Navajos have suffered at the hands of USAers and Spaniards before them? Or are they the woman who lost her child and the child who lost her birth mother.
    I felt so uneasy looking at that painting.

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