It’s really an honor to be short-listed, especially if you were short-listed from a cattle call and you don’t actually know anyone on any of the committees and have no history with the organization. It means you have managed to be one of the 5 or 10 percent of the applicants whose work actually caught the attention of a bunch of strangers.

Then you are down to that last presentation and you give it your best and wham, one of the other 5 or 10 percent get it. Well the trouble is, particularly with large institutions restricted by legislation, you just don’t know why there was a cattle call. Did they really want the best of a wide range of folks and not have a clue who they would  pick? Did they need to be sure before they hired from within and rewarded someone who had worked really hard to get the gig? Or were they just going through the motions to fulfill a legislative need knowing full well who they wanted?

And if the institution was simply being sure of themselves or going through the motions, would you have done the same if you were on the committee? Would you have worked hard to get the gig for someone you cared about, or whom you thought deserved it, even if they were not quite as good as someone else? Would you have been loyal to the person or the system?

My aunt and uncle were staunch anti-war socialist, so much so that they were conscientious objectors during World War II, even though they were Jewish–can you imagine the stigma! Anyway it always seemed to me that they, and other socialist-liberals types I knew, were very much about the bleeding masses, but rarely about a friend in need. And it frustrated me. Why did it seem like the hard core capitalists, who were so uninterested in the bleeding masses, where so much more helpful to friends in need?

Perhaps is is because that type of staunch socialist believed that to have a society that was truly inclusive and fair, spreading wealth and opportunity evenly, everyone needed to act in the best interests of the group not their own intimate circle. Perhaps the capitalists believe that if everyone simply looked after their own, there would be no need from the greater good?

Is it possible for people to be altruistic, putting the greater good before their own? Players on a sports team might be willing to give up their individual moment of glory so their team can win, but what about giving up something and not getting such an immediate reward? What about adhering to the intent of a piece of legislation, perhaps paying the tax, rather than creating a situation that allows you to keep that extra money? And then in time your municipality has enough money to fund schools or health care?

Of course your small sacrifice is not worth much unless it is accompanied by many other people’s sacrifices. Can you trust them to do that? Or should you just look after your own?

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