Tag Archive | "altruism"

Filipino Freethinkers Livestream and Meetup for a Cause


FF-Fundraiser-Poster-v-for-wordpress

yolanda-01

The super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) left in its wake thousands dead, injured, and missing. Even more have lost their homes and lost contact with family members. Estimates of damage in the agricultural sector alone are almost 4 billion Pesos. Victims of Haiyan in Visayas and neighboring regions are in need of food and drinking water, among many other necessities.

Filipino Freethinkers urges everyone that can help to give what they can. On Saturday, November 16, 2013, we will be live streaming a show, hosted by FF President Red Tani, to get the freethinking community in the Philippines and in the world to raise funds to support those affected by this horrific tragedy. The show will be available on Twitch as well as our site.

From 10 AM to 8 PM, we will be aggregating pledges donated directly to the Philippine Red Cross, either online, bank deposit, or through SMS via Smart or Globe. Donors will receive a tracking number from the Red Cross and we encourage freethinkers around the world to tell us how much they donated. We will also be counting donations by freethinkers to other charities of their choice, such as the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center.

Donors of any amount will get a shout out during the live broadcast.

Donors of P1,000 and above will get to have their topic of choice (not necessarily typhoon/relief related) discussed live by FF. Freethinkers can donate even before the live show. Email us the charity, the amount donated, and the tracking number (if available) at [email protected] and we will add it to the tally. You can also message us through Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter using #FFFundraiser as the hashtag. Share with us how you and others can help.

Join us on November 16, 10 AM to 8 PM live on Ustream. Help our fellow Filipinos in this time of crisis.

About Philippine Red Cross: The Philippine Red Cross is a secular charitable institution that “endeavors to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever and whenever it is found.”

About Citizens’ Disaster Response Center: The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center is a secular non-governmental organization that promotes “community-based disaster management in the Philippines.” It has been chosen by the American humanist charity Foundation Beyond Belief as its recipient of $10,000 in support of relief efforts in the Philippines.

On Sunday, November 17, 2013, we will be hosting a regularly scheduled meetup at the Episcopalian Holy Trinity Church.

Location: Holy Trinity Church, 48 Mckinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati
Date: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Google Map: http://goo.gl/wCMAl

Topics
– Effective Altruism
– Looting During Disasters

During the meetup, we will also be coordinating donations from FF members. We will be donating these contributions to the Philippine Red Cross. Material donations will be delivered to LBC, which the Red Cross will also receive. Please note, though, that charities have items such as old clothes in excess.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup, Organization, SocietyComments (1)

Altruism and the Evolution of Morality


One of the issues being debated by freethinkers is the source of our morality. Some atheists postulate that morality is just the product of evolution while agnostics point out that there are cases of altruistic human behavior that have nothing to do with propagating one’s genes, and theists claim that our moral values must have therefore come from a Moral Lawgiver.

While some moral standards can be attributed directly to evolution (for example, a species or race composed mostly of murderers will soon kill itself into extinction, hence, murder is generally judged as morally wrong), some say that evolution cannot account for every act of apparent selflessness such as helping the poor, the sick and the old especially those to whom the giver has no blood relations.

While part of me wants to prove them wrong by explaining how evolution has given us the brains to continuously define moral standards with increasing sophistication, what I want to show in this article is that we are not as “moral” – at least in the altruistic sense – as we like to think we are.

Webster defines altruism as “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others“. The operative word is unselfish, and it is precisely because of this qualifier that I daresay that most acts of caring and sharing cannot be considered altruistic because they are not unselfish but rather selfish, albeit with a very long-term view in mind.

In this way, I believe there are relatively few cases of altruism; what we often see is reciprocal altruism, defined as “a behaviour whereby an organism acts in a manner that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism’s fitness, with the expectation that the other organism will act in a similar manner at a later time.”

Since life is not a zero-sum game, meaning whatever the strong/rich gives to the weak/poor has a relatively lower value to the former than to the latter, it is easy to explain reciprocal altruism. The loss experienced by the giver is less than the gain enjoyed by receiver, and when the giver becomes the receiver in the future, the investment will have paid off handsomely.

What is hard to explain, at least in terms of evolution, is true altruism – pure, selfless concern for the welfare of others at one’s own expense – particularly among those who do not even expect a heavenly reward. And the most altruistic people I can think of are the vegans and animal rights advocates. Helping other people, even those to whom we are not related, always carries the conscious or unconscious expectation that such gesture will be reciprocated in the future, not necessarily by the same people we helped. But caring about the lower animals and granting them equal rights, knowing full well that they have no capacity to repay us for our compassion and sacrifice (a vegan diet is expensive, not to mention not as satisfying, at least at the start), that is simply way beyond reciprocity.

But I will make no attempt to explain such behavior. Why? Because I don’t have to, if only to debunk the theists’ claim that our morality must have come from God. Vegans are the minor exception, not the rule, so instead trying to account their moral advocacy to evolution, I will simply say that humans in general do not have such morality, at least not as of this point in our history.

So to those who say that we are a moral race because we condemn murder, rape, and robbery and even made laws against them, think about the animals that we not only slaughter for food (and leather and fur!) but systematically raise in the most cost-effective way, crowding as many animals as possible in tight spaces to minimize cost without regard for their welfare (overcrowding causes stress, heatstroke and injuries – that’s why we cut off the beaks of chicks [without anesthesia!] so they don’t peck each other and damage the meat). And for as long as we buy and eat farmed chicken, pork, and beef, we are guilty of perpetuating their suffering. Is this something a species supposedly getting their morals from a loving Creator would do?

As Michael Shermer said:

Morals do not exist in nature and thus cannot be discovered. In nature there are just actions – physical actions, biological actions, and human actions. Human actors act to increase their happiness, however they personally define it. Their actions become moral or immoral when someone else judges them as such. Thus, morality is a strictly human creation, subject to all the cultural influences and social constructions as other such human creations.

Does this mean that all human actions are morally equal? No…We create standards of what we like and dislike, desire or not, and make judgments against these standards. But the standards are themselves human creations and not discovered in nature…one group prefers patriarchal dominance, and so judges male privileges to be morally honorable…Thus, male ownership of females was once moral and is now immoral, not because we have discovered it as such, but because our society has realized that women also seek greater happiness and that they can achieve this more easily without being in bondage to males.

Will our race one day realize that animals also seek greater happiness and that they can achieve this more easily without being raised in cramped, cruel captivity all their short miserable lives? More importantly, are we willing to set them free at the expense of losing a reliable food source? Until then, there is no point in bragging about our so-called morality, and especially in arguing that our moral standards must be more than just a product of evolution.

* * * * *

The following is a comment from our resident vegan, Nancy, posted several days after this article was published. I’m featuring it here because it sheds light to the vegans’ supposed altruism:

Thank you for including nonhuman animals in your consciousness and in this post  That said, if the definition of altruism includes no benefit to the individual, no one would be truly altruisitc. When one chooses to do good, one finds peace within and it could be argued that it is a selfish motivation to do what is aligned to one’s beliefs. This is also true for vegans. After I made the connection between violence and animal use, I became vegan because not doing so would make me intensely uncomfortable (to say the least). It would benefit my emotional well-being more to be a vegan than to continue to consume animals.

I am not more moral than non-vegans. I just happened to make the connection. Other people seem to have an intrinsic sense about this, kids who at a very young age realize that meat comes from animals and just refuse to eat them, even without anyone having to explain factory farming or environmental degradation. Others need exposure and information to sift through the many years of unquestioned beliefs and get it, like me. Whereas others are still brainwashed by the messages sent out by animal agriculture companies (“milk=calcium” when in reality broccoli has more calcium, “it’s tradition”, etc.) and need more time to make the connection. BTW a vegan diet is not expensive. It actually saves you money from medicine and hospital bills so it’s again self-serving if you look at it that way. It is also satisfying as your taste buds begin to appreciate the natural tastes. Regarding reliable food source, we stand more to gain if the world lived on a vegan diet. There will be more food since production will be more efficient. Again, this can be considered self-serving. Not destroying the only planet we live in, I suppose, would be self-serving as well.

Posted in Philosophy, ReligionComments (65)

Give the Gift of Life


Want to help save someone’s life without any pain on your part, cost, or even an ounce of effort? Just by signing your name and ticking a box may allow another human being a new lease on life thanks to your decision. Too good to be true? Not so. Interested to learn more? then read on…

Every year, thousands of people die from the lack of suitable organ replacements. The under-supply has even led to more unsavory, underground practices in the black-market trade for organs. A few years ago, there was an expose on a ring of human organ harvesters operating in third world countries preying on those desperate enough to sell a kidney while still alive. But such is the unfortunate result of sheer desperation. When it comes to survival, people may be driven to desperate deeds.

My father couldn’t have kidney transplant and had to endure the painful hemo-dialysis treatments until the day he died. Every other day, he had to endure having a thick needles being inserted into his fore-arm. These needles are many times thicker than a regular hypodermic needle for the volume of blood needed to circulate in and out a dialysis machine. This is the almost daily torture being endured by many patients suffering from kidney failure throughout the country. Many other families share the same problems or worse. Though some organs may be obtained through a living donor, most others like a heart may only be obtained from a deceased donor.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Common sense tells us that there are more people dying every day with a few good organs intact than there are patients who actually need organ transplants. Its a simple numbers game. After those people die, those viable organs are no longer of any use to the owner but they are just left to decompose instead of being donated to a needy patient in need of a lifeline. Such is the cruel irony of wasted potential. Who would appreciate your gift more? a needy patient… or worms? Unless you’re into the practice of ancient Egyptian burial rites and prefer to have your internal organs all nicely pickled in their own little canopic jars awaiting physical rebirth, then there is nothing stopping you from making the right choice.

When you die, you no longer need your body parts so if there is a worthwhile cause that may benefit from it, why hesitate? And who better to understand this fact than people who have no superstitious baggage about needing their bodies intact for some magical resurrection in the future. And you have no worries about your “immortal soul” feeling some sort of pain feedback when your physical body is “desecrated” (in any case, your body will be quite literally violated anyway during the embalming process. Having watched the entire procedure done to the body of a loved one, I can tell you in all honesty that no matter how respectful the morticians do it, it is still not a “gentle” process having to work through the rather cumbersome rigor mortis.). And that is why I whole-heartedly implore atheists, skeptics, freethinkers and everyone else everywhere to participate in the local organ donation program. So stop watching horror movies like “The Eye” or worse…. “Repo! the Genetic Opera” that’ll give you the heebie-jeebies about organ transplants and start signing up!

Now here’s the tricky part – you can’t tell people that it’s OK to donate your body to a worthwhile cause after you’re dead. Ghostly apparitions and “messages from beyond” aside, you have to let people know ahead of time that its OK with you… while you’re still alive. I know its an awkward conversation to discuss with your family but think of the life you’re possibly saving. That’s why Operation HOPE (Human Organ Preservation Effort), an advocacy campaign launch by the National Kidney Institute is helping raise awareness to the general public. Hopefully, this will encourage people to talk about it and lessen the social taboos regarding conversation about death.

Without your family knowing that you support the program, chances are, when the times comes, your family would be in too much grief or would be hesitant to give away parts of their loved one’s body without specific permission from you, the original owner. You make a last-will-and-testament to tell people what you want them to do with the possessions you’ve left behind, but what about your most intimate possession… your own body? This is where the Organ Donation Card comes in…

We already have the RA 7170, the Organ Donation Act of 199l that formalizes one’s intent to donate one’s organs via an organ donor card. So how does this work?

  1. You talk to your immediate family (or the people who can act as your legal guardian during emergencies) about it and even encourage them to participate as well. You will need witnesses to confirm your intent to join the program. These are the people who will inform the doctors that you are an organ donor when the time comes.
  2. If you have a driver’s license, don’t forget to check the organ donation tick-box at the back. If not, you can get an organ donation card, sign your name and two other witnesses, preferably immediate family members. Indicate which parts you wish to donate or you can opt to donate everything. (Unfortunately, there is no check-box for opting to donate your schlong. So no matter how proud you are of yours and are hoping to give some poor schmuck some measure of joy by being the proud owner of a penile implant, tough luck there is no demand for dong donations…yet :))
  3. In the absence of a national organ donation registry (which hopefully they will establish in the future), carry this card in your wallet or in any place easily accessible.

It’s that simple. Just prepare the card and don’t give it any more thought. After you pass away, your death may yet give the gift of life to someone else. In a way, it’s a win-win situation. Just like an expectant mother who takes better care of her body because two lives are depending on it, think of it as an additional incentive to live healthier because your body may outlast even you 🙂

————————–

For more information, visit these links:

Want to find out who else are proud supporters of Operation HOPE? Chances are, your favorite celebrities are already one of them:  Why are all these stars asking you to carry this card?

FAQ’s on Operation Hope:

The National Kidney Institute’s Operation Hope website

Want to help save a life while you’re still alive? Consider donating blood too.

Posted in SocietyComments (5)

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day


Looking for a more practical way to help your fellow human beings instead “praying” for them to get well? Good thoughts and well wishes may be well and good but for an unfortunate few, more concrete help will be more appreciated than magically wishing for them to get well.

June is statistically one of the low seasons for blood bank supplies, thus the annual awareness campaign for the need for more people to step up to the challenge of giving something of themselves… literally.

The 2010 global campaign focuses on Young Donors, with the slogan “New blood for the world”. It hopes that a new generation of idealistic and motivated voluntary unpaid blood donors will form a pool that provides the safest blood possible for use wherever and whenever it is needed to save life.

source: http://www.who.int/worldblooddonorday/en/

Some excerpts from Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang:

Young blood is what we need. We need a new breed of heroes. That’s why we say a blood donor is a hero. It’s so nice to see young people giving blood as it is a testament of the hope and future of our National Blood Program and a reflection of the kind of society we have today given the challenges we face. We are still a country of good-hearted, volunteer blood donors.

Blood donation is not dramatic and requires no grandstanding. It is plain and simple but with a great desire to lend a helping hand to someone without the lights and the camera. In blood donation, you never outdo, outwit and outlast anybody to become the hero you wanted to be. It’s only true when you want to be the sole survivor in the world!

Every second, someone in the world needs blood. Majority of the world’s population do not have access to safe blood and it can only be provided by blood donors who will voluntary and willingly donate their precious blood to save a life — a life of a mother giving birth, a victim of certain accident, a boy who is suffering  from leukemia, a child with dengue or a father who is undergoing open heart surgery.

Millions of people owe their lives to people who are not personally acquainted to them in one way or another – these are the people who give their blood freely and without hesitation, without asking anything in return.

In the Philippines, 9 out of 10 Filipinos will need blood sometime in their lives. With the demand for blood increasing every day and with its shelf life of 35 days, it is important that blood donation becomes a regular custom in the Philippines especially among the youth.

source: http://www.redcross.org.ph/Site/PNRC/secgen.aspx

Blood is life. And it’s the best gift you could ever give because more often than not, its a matter of life-and-death.  It’s not just a gift of blood, it’s a gift of life. One simply can’t rely on prayers to God to help make people get well because well, frankly, he’s been slouching off lately, and we’re in short supply of miracles nowadays. So it’s up to us then to make a difference because in the end, it’s people that help other people (… and don’t let the Objectivists tell you otherwise… altruism is good) 🙂

comic strip courtesy of: Least I Could Do

For more information:

Posted in AnnouncementsComments (8)


Facebook.com/Freethinkers