Is altruism always kind?

What is the true meaning of altruism? Or kindness, to speak in daily terms? Social activism has been and still is an important tool for achieving justice. Volunteerism is also an intrinsic societal tool for accomplishing much needed work on all levels of its existence. Thus many of us volunteer, protest, serve, voice and otherwise maintain our social activist role. Being thus politically and socially active certainly provides a forum for a personal and global altruistic expression.

At the same time, every such social activist and volunteer certainly has many personal relations, such as friends, co-workers, spouses, children, parents, relatives. How often do we as proponents of social justices remember to ask a simple question of our close relations, such as "How are you?" How much do we truly care about the answer? And what do we do about extending our altruistic hand to at least one such individual on a daily basis? Now, of course we are always there for people when personal tragedies strike, or at least we hope to be when needed. But when our children long to spent a close moment together with us while truly needing our altruistic selves to sympathise with their personal struggles and needs of the moment no matter how small they might seem to us and big to them, are we ready to drop our activist loads and hold them in our arms and hearts, offering all of our time and all of our selves? How patient and loving are we in our responses to their needs, or to the needs of our parents and friends? Are we always in tune with what we hear from our daily encounters with people and ready to extend a helping gesture of understanding, help and love, be it through a sharing of a word, of a glance or of a penny? In all our righteousness about social injustices of the world, how often do we allow ourselves to judge people around us, gossip about them or feel offended by them? Are we always ready to forgive?

How does our altruism weigh on the scale of service for social world justice and daily kindness towards our families and friends? All of us who consider ourselves caring, altruistic, volunteering fighters for social justice and societal order should only remember to start and finish each day with enough of kind, loving, understanding and generous gestures towards our daily personal encounters. The world would be a more bearable place if we do and we would only become more noble in our altruism.