All of us have altruistic urges, to a larger or smaller extent. But there is usually only a small part of us that is kind. However being consistently and uniformly altruistic is rare and fairly non-existent even among so called swamis and holy men.
The lopsided altruism: Most of us practice lopsided altruism. There are some who would not bat an eyelid in shelling out money to a charitable organization – to orphans, to the hungry and the needy. Yet these very same people will find it difficult to be charitable in their nature to their relatives or a colleague. They will be unkind, rude and biased. On the other hand there are those who will be generous to their near and dear ones. They will make sure that their family, relatives and dear ones get their full attention. However they will turn a blind eye to the destitute and the really needy.
The generosity oxymoron: We are expected to give without even the expectation of gratitude. However we generally tend to feel pleased with ourselves and our own perceived nobility. In fact some people even go to the extent of comparing themselves mentally and feel that they are superior in generosity. This is an oxymoron. There is never more generosity. It is as meaningless as being “more pure”.
Ego vs. altruism: This is another bind we typically get into. For e,g. if there is another who is also morally responsible for something then our altruism will depend on whether the other person is equally altruistic as we perceive ourselves to be. For e.g. if there is a village which can benefit from increased funding we will feel that we can give only if all responsible parties also give. Closer to home it is common for a spouse to ignore their child if their significant other ignores the child. In these cases the ego gets in the way and the child or the village suffers. It is better that we get rid of our egoism and give regardless of whether anybody else does or not.
While all of us have an altruistic and generous nature out pettiness often gets in the way. Generosity of heart has to be practiced till it becomes a habit. It requires a lot of thought to keep us broad minded and truly generous.