In Search of Altruism...some post election thoughts

Written by Jo Carroll.


Well, it’s done.

We’ve voted. Now the government is being reshaped and all those in opposition are picking up the pieces.

As a voter, it’s also time for reflection on the campaign. And here is what disappointed me most: politicians of all parties assumed that I was primarily motivated by self-interest - self-interest amounting to little more than concern about how much money I would have.

Promises on tax, on pensions, on my bus pass and winter fuel allowance – they assumed that I would vote for them if they protected my pocket.

They misjudge me.

Many years ago there was an important book entitled ‘The Gift Relationship’; it explored our capacity for altruism as expressed in the donation of blood. Millions of us do that – half an hour of discomfort to benefit someone we will never know.

Comic Relief, Children in Need, donations to support those suffering from earthquakes or more humble challenges – all evidence that we have a capacity for empathy and compassion that our politicians underestimate. As some of you know, I travel widely – and experience has shown me that most people go out of their way to help a stranger in trouble with no thought for recompense.

The world is full of kind, generous people. Millions of them live in the UK – but you’d never know that from reading the party manifestos.

That saddens me.

I shall always vote. But I dream of the day when a candidate overlooks our egocentricities and talks of compassion, and empathy, and understanding of people and places and institutions that are truly in need.

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