altruism LO28437

From: Barry Mallis (
Date: 05/08/02

Replying to LO28429 --

Dear Andrew,

Working selflessly for the welfare of others has at least two levels in
organizations which provide goods/services to customers:

The level of service to the customer, often in gross cliché form: "the
customer is always right"; and

The level of care within, and for, the organization itself.

I suppose that the best symbiotic relationship between these two creates a
wonderful company. But there's an engrossing paradox at play no matter
what is done. In its al-truest form, an organization selling
goods/services is usually set up to make a profit so as to perpetuate the

We have come to accept in our industrial/post-industrial society that we
do not barter. We purchase with money; we play our part in capitalism,
where someone has something to offer, and if the customer perceives the
value, then the customer buys. The provider wants to make a profit for
myriad reasons.

I don't think that altruism can reside on the gross level of organization,
where an organization sells goods/services. The managing director may be
an altruistic person; his minions may be altruistic in their personal
lives, and even in in their work relationships with colleagues. But
overall, selflessness is not the rule of the day, because of the clouding
of capitalism.

You might counter that, like a veil over our hearts, this fact has been
subsumed by our cultures in the UK and the US. That beyond the exchange of
capital, we can be altruistic at a high level of
abstraction--organizationally, as it were. An inventor prides herself in
her work which will deliver people from another pestilence of modern
society/living. She foresees for people a better place to live. She gets a
patent; she finds endorsement and investment. I think we could accept her
behavior as altruistic at some level, despite the plethora of layers and

In another realm, there are some who believe that Judas, of all the
disciples, was the closest to Jesus; that he was told by Jesus that he
would perform the ultimate act of selflessness/self-immolation; that on
the Mount of Revelation it was Judas who destroyed his ego and was
consumed into the Mystery of the Divine Spirit within. And today his name
is reviled. Wouldn't it be a grand irony? Such selflessness,
self-abnegation, misunderstood by so many at its deepest level of meaning!

And another realm: we are sometimes selfless when there is no one around
with whom to share emotion. In a crude sense, when we watch a sunset that
makes our neck hairs stand on end, and there's no other to whom we can
demonstrate our sensitivity toward the universe, we still feel as we do.
For an instant, we are connected to the Greater "blankly" and without
thought of self-promotion. Altruism. All-true-ism, where we "de-think"
ourselves into Truth of existence.

I am de-thinking...when was the last time I did something for another
person where I knew that the person would NEVER know it was I?




Barry Mallis The Organizational Trainer 110 Arch St., #27 Keene, NH 03431-2167 USA voice: 603 352-5289 FAX: 603 357-2157 cell: 603 313-3636 email:

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