While in Laos, I partook in an almsgiving. According to the frequently relied upon Wikipedia, the giving of alms is a “spiritual rite which involves giving to another as an act of virtue.” During our almsgiving, my travel mates and I bought rice, candy, and bananas from local vendors and waited in darkness long before the sun rose for a line of Buddhist monks to walk down the street and collect our items. The experience was enlightening, fascinating, and foreign.
When reflecting on this experience, the concept of altruism came to mind, as the giving of alms is considered altruistic by some religions. Wiki claims that “altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone other than the self (e.g. sacrificing time, energy or possessions) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (e.g., receiving recognition for the act of giving).”
We were inundated with a flood of messages and images from Boston today, both horrifying and inspiring and we were reminded once again that evil people exist in this world with the most evil of intentions. Yet through the trauma and aftermath of such acts of hate, we see heroes emerge and we see this rare type of selflessness among strangers, a beautiful image of altruistic love in the most unexpected and tragic of events.