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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

One of my favorite illustrations of the true, vicious nature of altruism comes from the bible:

Luke 21:1-4
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

If the real meaning of altruism were simply "helping others", then obviously "the rich" in this passage would be the most praise-worthy, since they provided the most help. But the poor widow, whose objective contribution is virtually nil, is the one who is most morally worthy. Why? Because she is the one who *harmed herself the most*. How much you hurt yourself is Jesus's standard of moral value.

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