Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why I Cheered the Runners

I was about to leave my house and walk to my office one Saturday morning in October. I heard shouts outside and saw runners go down the street. (Not the sidewalk. In Durant, the sidewalks are in dangerous disrepair. So the street was closed by the police for the safety of the runners.) It was a community awareness and fundraising event. I did not know the background story of this event.

I still don’t. I decided that I did not need to know. The most important thing is, in my view, that this event was occurring at all. It was a wonderful example of altruism.
Altruism is where animals are nice to each other, and they both (or all) benefit from it. It is not necessarily self-sacrifice; it can be mutual benefit. And it is usually enjoyable. We humans not only have the instinct of being nice, but we enjoy it. The runners enjoyed running, their sponsors enjoyed donating money to the community benefit, and everyone enjoyed social interactions with their neighbors.

In Oklahoma, most people aren’t very good at altruism. Many of the Durant, Oklahoma altruists were involved in this event. But at least as many people in Durant are hostile toward altruism. They are hostile to their neighbors. They prefer to throw their garbage into their neighbors’ yards just to prove how hostile they are. (About ten percent of my garbage is what other people throw in my yard.)

So when I see altruism in action, I want to celebrate it. I was unprepared for this event, even though it went right past my front yard. But I stood out in the yard and clapped for the runners, none of whom I actually knew. And they thanked me. I got more “thank you” wishes in a half an hour than I usually get in a month.

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