All human beings can develop nobility of nature. They can be happy, even when confronted by great adversity; friendly, even to those who hate them; more concerned for what is right than with anything they might, personally, prefer; willing to place others’ needs before their own. For most people, however, such attitudes go against the grain of deep habit. Seldom, if ever, do attitudes like these come easily. The example of others is usually needed to inspire such attitudes in oneself. Under such an influence, those attitudes can gradually become second nature.
It was because of attitudes like these that the monasteries during the Dark Ages were so forceful a presence. One reads about how the monks and nuns inspired others. An individual may be able to exert a positive influence on his own, but unless his energy is combined with that of others, he will be likely to draw attention to himself as a unique person, rather than to inspire others to develop his qualities themselves.
To think of others’ needs first, rather than of one’s own, is more easily generated in a cooperative community than in places where people oppose generosity with the slogan, “Look out for number one!” Indeed, if a community has a truly expansive outlook, it will embrace the larger community also in its concerns, instead of focusing only on its own needs.