The Beautiful Irony of Social Responsibility
A modern scientific understanding of the human mind gives us insight on our development as a species. We evolved through the selfish and brutish process of evolution, in which the adept flourish and those not suited for the environment are mercilessly left behind. The utmost goal of living organisms is to survive. Genuine altruism, the act of genuinely putting other lives ahead of your own, is an illusion.
Far from disheartening, this actually leads to a far more interesting conclusion. We evolved as communal creatures because communities are far more beneficial to our selfish survival than going at it solo. We help others because it makes us feel good. We improve our lives when we enrich the lives of others. Our selfishness is ironically altruistic.
This beautiful irony allows us to better our own lives if we embrace it in its entirety. Social responsibility is this awareness of the world around you. A world that grows, gains, and loses parts of itself day after day, regardless of your awareness of these phenomena. By choosing awareness, you will grow with the world, reap from those gains, and truly understand the impact of the losses.
This can take the form of donations to charities and causes that speak to you, whether they are large amounts or loose change. If your pockets are empty, take action. Volunteer, tutor students struggling with their classes, or become an activist for your favourite cause. Even picking up litter on the streets, a deceptively simple task that is far from trivial, can stir you to take further action and encourage those around you to follow suit. You are not fighting or defying your selfish genes, but rather utilizing them in the most selfless way.
Two common terms most associated with social responsibility are Individual Social Responsibility and Corporate Social Responsibility. The distinction is simple but the implications can be problematic. The latter looks at what a company or organization does for its community. This term can cause us grow despondent when thinking of the far-reaching capabilities of an organization versus our own individual impact. Yet it is Individual Social Responsibility that is the roots of Corporate Social Responsibility, and where the real change happens; whatever the terminology, the core principles remain the same.
You may have lingering doubts about your role in all of this. Many of us do. We are trapped in the perspective our minds create. We have a logical understanding that there is an entire universe out there, and a single planet with billions of minds, each with its own perspective. Yet our individual brain does not have the capacity to truly conceive this idea in its entirety. Stepping outside yourself and focusing on your social responsibility is one of the best ways to battle anxiety, depression, and the other negative mental states that trap us. By engaging in social responsibility, we are bridging the gap between the solitary perspective within us and the endless vibrancy of the surrounding world.
Enevoldson, Naomi. What is Social Responsibility? http://www.imasocialentrepreneur.com/social-responsibility/