Devotion to Others
Altruism, the “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” or defined by colleagues as loving others as you love yourself, a behavior or act that helps another at your own cost, or self-sacrifice that benefits others. Have you ever done something where your sole intention was to help or save someone without concern for yourself?
We all like to think that we are able and willing to rise to the occasion during times of great crisis. We all aspire to emulate what the heroes of our time might have done in similar situations. The Bible passage, John 15:13, comes to mind when I am faced with extreme crisis – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” A few years back over Memorial weekend I visited Arlington National Cemetery with a military friend and my wife. As we walked through the grounds I viewed many headstones inscribed with John 15:13. Those headstones reminded me that those were individuals who gave their life for the sake of others.
Could I Do That?
The underlying theme is an act or behavior that promotes the survival opportunities of others at a cost to your own life. I have witnessed this throughout my life more times than I can remember. In the military, I witnessed many acts of altruism. Working with the Red Cross there were many instances where acts of altruism made the difference. There is one instance that has stuck with me for a very long time. Years ago there was a terrible airplane crash; it was the dead of winter and the aircraft ended up skidding into the frozen / freezing cold river. I remember vividly to this day watching a passer by jump into the frozen / freezing cold water to save people. I recall thinking “could I do that?” In the end, the would-be rescuer did not make it – he lost his life. He put his life on the line by not hesitating to jump in to provide assistance to those hurt in the crash.
I leave you with this quote:
"There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, "This isn’t the way." And this morning, I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution."
Martin Luther King, Jr.