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Student’s Perspective: The way in which Altruism is practised differently in this day and age

Pedro

Mr. Pedro Moreira
Source: The Coming Age of Altruism

By PEDRO MOREIRA*

On the 28th December, 2000, my parents showed me that nothing in life is accomplished without sacrifice. I was only six years old. Even at that young age, I still understood what my parents were doing for us. I was born in Portugal in 1993 and was raised in a family who were neither rich nor poor, but had enough to make sure my siblings and I had everything we needed. Even if sometimes it meant taking bread from their plate to put on ours. Our country practically forced us to leave. My parents decided to emigrate because they soon realised the possibility of me and my sister going to university was fading away. Eventually, I reached the age of deciding to go or not and my parents wanted to make sure that if I did, they would stop at nothing to make it possible. Unfortunately, I do not think that in today’s generation there are a vast number of people with such a high level of altruism. Not many people are willing to entirely uproot and leave their home behind to search for something better, with the objective of bettering someone else’s future. This, and knowing what it is like to not have support when it’s most needed, has majorly influenced me to want to help others in the future.

Everyone has a time in their life when they finally decide what they want to make of themselves. Surprisingly enough, my time arrived the first time I stepped inside an aeroplane – the day we left Portugal. From that moment on, I knew that all I wanted to do with my life was fly planes. I always thought it was a huge coincidence that on the day my family happened to start looking for a better life, my aspirations grew. Eleven years after that first flight, I held onto my dream of becoming a pilot and began to apply to pilot training courses. Little did I know, I was about to receive a reality check in return.

I tried to get into the aviation pathway three times. Out of those three times, not one went forward. It turns out that to become a commercial airline pilot there are approximately four licences altogether, including the ATPL licence. Overall, it is roughly an excess of £100,000. Of course, my parents couldn’t afford this ridiculous amount of money. So, I looked for financial support from charities and even applied the Future Pilot Programme with British Airways, to no avail. There would always be someone who had the financial means necessary to cover the costs of training. Why would an organisation invest in my career when there were other people who could easily afford the massive fees out of their own pocket?

At this point, I was having daily conversations with my parents because I was scared that I was chasing something that potentially didn’t exist. I couldn’t afford to throw away the opportunity my parents had given me by migrating to England. If I did, the weight on my conscience would destroy me. I knew I loved studying business. I hadn’t even begun to imagine the impact studying business was going to have on me. My mother said numerous times that, “Deus escreve certo, por linhas tortas” or “God writes straight, through crooked lines.” In other words, my mother was telling me that maybe aviation wasn’t what God had in vision for me. Honestly, with the amount of rejections I received, I reluctantly began to agree with her. As a result, I decided to apply to university to study business, which was something I knew I was good at. I went through the process of choosing five universities. Before I knew it, I had received offers from every university I applied to. Just goes to show, that when you want to believe they do, mothers always know.

The reality is, the aviation industry loses out on a huge number of talented and intellectually capable minds, but unfortunately, they do not realise it. A stereotype has been developed on the basis of, “it is not what you know, but it is who you know.” Why? People should not be deprived from their dreams because they don’t have the right contacts. I believe this stereotype has, in many ways, been moulded into the minds of the Baby-Boomer generation.

It is likely no coincidence that the Baby-boomlets (sometimes referred to as Millennials), are diverting away from their dream careers, which would have been more easily attainable for the Baby Boomer generation. However, I do not think this is a result from the lack of encouragement and self-motivation. My opinion has originated from my personal experiences with career motivation. I believe this is a result of the inordinate focus on self-interest that has been injected into modern psychology and political thinking.

For example, according to the Office for National Statistics the current unemployment rate in the UK 7.7 percent. Compare this to British Airways, which despite shedding more than jobs and losing profits after merging with Iberia in 2011 to form IAG, still managed to make €247 million in operating profit in its second fiscal quarter of 2013. The Telegraph’s recent article, British Airways parent IAG posts second quarter profit, notes that this was indeed, a noticeable uptick from the previous year’s second quarter earnings of €94m.

I’m sure that with this level of income, investing in an individual’s career would gain British Airways and IAG a great return, in terms of reputation. However, self-interest has outweighed the levels of cooperation in today’s world and this is constantly reinforcing the capitalist state. Major corporations would rather allow a self-funded individual to join them, rather than taking the risk of investing in an individual with financial difficulties, which could potentially benefit them one hundred times more. As Policymic’s Jewelyn Cosgrove stated in her post on the subject, “We just don’t want to play the game in the identical way as generations that have come before us, and for good reason.”

In other words, Baby-boomlets have personal motivation which makes them unique. This uniqueness makes us, as a generation, more passionate about our prospective jobs or careers, something which is probably not found in a lot of baby boomers. This could perhaps be because they didn’t begin their careers stressing about debt levels and their employment market being in decline so extensively.

In my opinion, there should be more people in this world with an altruistic mind-set. There should be more people with intent to support someone without having some sort of self-interest. While I have yet to fulfil my childhood dream of pursuing aviation, I realize how lucky I have been to have benefited from my parent’s altruistic motives. If we had stayed in Portugal, higher education for me and my siblings would likely have been completely unattainable. For instance, the average bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in Portugal are between €950-1250 per year. In 2013, the national minimum wage is a ridiculous €565.83 per month, according to countryeconomy.com. Considering the Portuguese government doesn’t even offer student loans, there is no way on earth someone can afford to pay for tuition fees with a minimum wage of €565.83 per month.

The trouble is, while the ranks of pro-social and altruistic are growing, we are still in the minority. I hold out hope that even if a few individuals in the minority make it into the public realm, they may change the system. I do also believe that my generation will prove to today’s world that we do not need a wealthy or well-known background to achieve great things in the future.

References

Country Economy., (2013), National Minimum Wage, http://countryeconomy.com/national-minimum-wage, 23.10.2013.

Cosgrove, J. (2013), This Viral Blog Post Says Millennials Think We’re All Special Snowflakes, Policy Mic, 23.10.2013, https://www.policymic.com/articles/64029/this-viral-blog-post-says-millennials-think-we-re-all-special-snowflakes

The Telegraph., (2013), British Airways parent IAG posts second quarter profithttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10217892/British-Airways-parent-IAG-posts-second-quarter-profit.html, 24.10.2013.

The Office for National Statistics., (2013), Labour Market, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Labour+Market., 23.10.2013.

Biography

* Pedro Moreira is a business student at the University of Greenwich.

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