Altruism is the unselfish assistance from one person towards another. When one human being gives of his personal time, resources, and talents to another human without expecting or even desiring any reward in return, such an act is appropriately referred to as altruistic. There are various characteristics that make up an altruistic act, as follows. First, people must notice that something is wrong and perceive that an emergency actually exists – is the person really in pain or is he simply lying there? is he sick or just intoxicated? Then, people must know what to do, assume responsibility, and then decide to help.
In the clip below (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Quasimodo is placed on a pedestal in front of the city and is being humiliated and ridiculed in front of the town. The people quickly become carried away in hurling food and vegetables at him, and no one, as it seems, is willing to step in and stop the commotion . In the middle of this mayhem of a moment, Esmerelda compassionately approaches Quasimodo to offer her help and the crowd ceases to throw food. In the scene, Esmerelda exemplified altruism because she knew how to help, assumed responsibility, and decided to stand up for Quasimodo. From what is shown in the film, she did not offer her assistance with the end of receiving some sort of reward in return. She simply gave of her time and resources to Quasimodo with the sole purpose of alleviating his pain and humiliation.
Altruism refers to deeds (verbal or physical) done in order to help someone in need. It does not include any expectation of reward in return for service offered. In our own lives we would be wise to train our minds to be constantly aware of the needs of those around us and be prepared to help. Then comes the hard part – roll up your sleeves, summon your courage, and get out there and help!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU800kfHzaw 24:50 – 27:11 (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)