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Saturday, June 15, 2024
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EditorialsUp Front 11/13

Up Front 11/13

“Over the next few decades, we may see the rise of a new civilisation that works collectively to resolve pressing issues rather than cause them.” This is the view of Dr Michael Babula, author of a recently published book,Motivation, Altruism, Personality and Social Psychology: The Coming Age of Altruism. I may be old-fashioned but I find myself drawn more to this kind of thinking than the less altruistic ‘trample over everyone to get to the top of the ladder’ attitude. OK, that does make it more likely that I will go down with a sinking ship, but if I’m going to give my life some sense of value then I would prefer to feel good about how I live it. I have met many wealthy people and often their mental health and level of true happiness isn’t something to aspire to. The crux of Dr Babula’s book is that selfless behaviour and concern for others are better for our mental health and general well-being than acting selfishly. After more than a decade’s research, he has found that it is the drive towards self-interest and materialism, at the expense of our wider social surroundings, that is a major source of crime, cruelty, unhappiness and lack of empathy within western society. He says that society is in “a dark age” because governing and educational systems promote the cultivation of self-interest. What interests me most is that the book has a hopeful message. He says that the values of the younger generation lean towards being more inclusive and cooperative—in short, more altruistic. So despite the barrage of TV and general marketing of behaviour based more on greed, perhaps generations behind us will see that as folly and live together happily ever after. There—a positive thought for Christmas.

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