I was up in the air about what to talk about this week. I figured I would talk about how to deal with people who don't support you because I'm spending the next 4 days with the one of the few people who still doesn't support my decisions, my dad. I decided to change that though, a discussion came up in my anthropology class that almost brought me to tears.
I'm taking physical anthropology this quarter. It fulfills my science requirement and it seemed easy. My teacher is a cool guy. His name in Kenya, He jokes all the time and sparks interesting conversations. Today we were talking about natural selection and other evolutionary processes that effect variation. One of the processes we talked about was survival of the fittest and the arguments against it. The first argument against it is altruism.
He told us that altruism is very rare and not common. When we do a nice or kind thing for another we also do something that benefits us. Of course every one in the class in the class is like "No way thats not true. We can think of multiple things that are altruistic." His response was "Ok, give me examples. In fact, If you can give me one example of altruism I'll give you 20 points extra credit." A lot of hands went up after that.
I sat in my seat in the back. I debated whether I should tell everyone that I gave Jude up for adoption. That was altruistic. Everyone keeps telling me that its the kindness thing I've ever done, that I'm amazing, and how blessed Katie and Greg must be to have found me. I made a personal sacrifice to do what's better for my son. I held back though, because in this class I find that I am rarely right. So I just listened to others first.
The first guy raises his hand. "I give blood often." Kenya says "You give blood so others can live. Do they give you juice afterwards?"
"Do you take the juice and drink it?"
"There you go. You got something out of it."
The next guy raises his hand. "I was a solider and would take bombs off of cars and buildings and make sure no one would get hurt."
"Hmmm. Did you get paid?"
"Yes, but I didn't do it for the money"
"But you did get paid. You took the money."
"I don't plan on using it."
"Doesn't matter. You still took it."
The last guy raises his hand. "A few years back I saved my friend's life. He was drowning and I jumped in and saved him."
"Wow, see I would never do that. Never, never. You know why?"
"I can't swim. So you saved your friend? You jumped in risking your own life to save your friends life. Did he remained your friend?"
"You know what they say 'A friend in need is a friend in deed'. When we do something for our friends we expect something back. Whether it be acknowledgement, return of affection, or even presents. We expect our feelings or whatever to be returned. Otherwise they wouldn't be our friends. Altruism is rare in our world. We confuse altruism with reciprocal altruism. We always do it for our own selfish reason."
The class kept the discussion going while Kenya got into how children treat their parents the worse out of all people in the world. I sat there with thoughts rolling around in my head. If no act of kindness is actually an act of kindness and that we do things for selfish reasons, what did that mean about the adoption? Was I selfish in giving him up? My intentions weren't to do the best thing for him, but to do the best things for me? I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I hate crying in public so I fought real hard to keep them from coming. I can't stand the idea that the adoption was for MY benefit. If it were for my benefit then I would feel better about the whole thing. I wouldn't miss him or want pictures or want to see him. How could someone call me selfish?!
"What about adoption?" I turned to the boy that asked the question. He was on the other side of class a few rows ahead of me. I had hope.
Kenya looked over at him. "Adoption, taking a child that doesn't have your genetic material and raising them as their own. That is the closes thing to altruism, but not completely." I had more hope, but which side was the altruistic side, the birth parents, adoptive parents, or both? I had to know, even though I didn't want to know. So I asked him and he said the adoptive parents were the closes to altruism. I stood there for a few seconds. I couldn't say anything because if I did I would start crying, and I didn't want to do that in front of my teacher. So I gave him a half-assed smile and left.
At first it was all emotion. I couldn't believe that I was selfish. I didn't want to think I was selfish. Then I tried to look at the reason behind it. I guess in a logical sense I am selfish. I took stuff from Katie and Greg, Natty, and other people as gifts. I still take gifts from people. I have a life and I'm not tied down by motherhood.
My hope is that Jude will never think that I did this for selfish reasons. I may not be altruistic, but I'm not selfish. If I were selfish, Katie and Greg wouldn't have a baby right now. I did not give up Jude for selfish reasons. I know I know that, but I'm worried about what other people think. I know I shouldn't be, but I am. I'm especially worried about what Katie, Greg, and eventually Jude think of me.
I don't want them to think that I'm selfish.