Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are we all basically selfish?

Imagine you were a boy in a big and quite house. Your parents are not at home, but your sister is. Great, you’ll wait for her to come out of her room, after all she must come out some time, so that you can abuse her, yes, sexually. Don’t worry, she won’t tell your parents, they wouldn’t believe her. You are mommy’s little boy, she’ll do anything for you. If your sister tries to tell your mother, you can still cry and tell her how bad your sister is, so that she is going to be punished. Anyway, you have been doing this for years, there really is no need to worry. Your sister is crying? So what?
You can’t imagine doing this? I hope so.

During the last few years I have realized something that I find terrible. There are people on this earth that are extremely selfish, people that don’t care at all about other people’s feelings.

The saddest part of it is that these people get away with what they do too often. Too often they are more successful in what they do than people that are honest and try to help others.
I have been thinking about this a lot and I really wonder whether one has to be selfish to get along in this world. Do you have to be unscrupulous, unfair and devilishly selfish?
Is this the only right way to be successful in whatever you do?
Are most people actually selfish at heart and is it good or even necessary to be so? Is it the easiest way?
However the easiest way doesn’t have to be a good way. But who determines what is good and what is bad? Isn’t moral just a necessary construct in our society?
And what are the consequences of such a behavior? Do these people really feel comfortable with themselves?

You could also say it in a more positive way. Is it a good thing to take care of yourself in the first place?
Should we be selfish, because we should love ourselves?
After all, someone has to look after you and maybe there is no one else. Isn’t it a good thing to pursue your dreams? It is, but what about the dreams of other people, what about their feelings, their hopes, their rights?
Is our society really so self-centered?

Are we all born selfish? From the biological point of view, we want to reproduce. Maybe it is in our genes, so that we are all basically selfish. But I think this explanation is too easy and I am not a biologist anyway.
Is helping others just a selfish way to feel good?
But then again, what about love and I mean true love? Shouldn't it be totally selfless?

What about generosity and altruism?
What about the human values we have? We should be able to find a balance between loving ourselves and caring for others.

I am asking myself all those questions, but in the end the answer doesn’t make a difference anyway. I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable.
So is it better to help others? For what good?

I don’t even know how to explain. I am not a very religious person, or rather I don’t believe in some specific church, so this is not the reason. I just feel we should help each other. Our world could be a much more wonderful place if everybody cared for others. Of course, there are a lot of people that do and I am really happy to know some.

I remember donating some money when I was about 15 years old. My brother just laughed at me, he couldn’t understand how one could be so stupid to give away their money. He even admitted that all he cared about was himself.
I have now a godson in Africa that I support with some money, although I don’t have much of it either and I work hard for it during semester break. I didn’t tell anybody, because I know people wouldn’t understand, especially not my family. Isn’t it terrible that one has to feel ashamed because of doing something good for others?
I know that for this child the money is much more worth than for me and I love that I can contribute to his chance of going to school.  Moreover, he is just a little child and it really isn’t his fault that his parents were not able to take care of him. So why not support him when I have the chance to?

Why not always help others when we have the chance to do so? And I don’t mean by donating money, but in our everyday life. You could brighten someone’s day or even more, and isn’t this totally worth it?



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  2. Anonymous7/9/12 02:09

    You said you are not a religious person, but I confide you know some too well spread knowledge in reference to selfishness.

    I do not know how true the story could be, and, as you, not being too prone to mystic things I only can guess some events.

    Supposing we appeared on Earth as good and sacred beings, something happened that let us alone and vulnerable when Eden was banished from our lives.

    On the other hand suppose that the real thing was that our furry ancestors descended from the trees to evolution into a thinking being.

    Whichever you like to choose as true, it is then that selfishness asserts itself as the ruler of our life to preserve the species. It was a terrible time where all odds were against us.

    Then things changed, slowly, but changed to make our life easier, anyway the sense of preservation did not lose its primeval stage, on the contrary, we become selfish opportunists, and in that way we demonstrated that the one who hit first has the most opportunity to get the prize.

    Human evolved but many of our primitive forces are still in action and selfishness is the most conspicuous of them all. The scale says : I am first, I am second, and if there is a third place I am there.

    If you sieve carefully all our motivation you will be surprised that most of our actions, if not all of them, are motivated by a clear or hidden selfish reason, even if it is only the satisfaction to feel having made a "good" thing.

    This should not deter us to keep looking ways to be unselfish since even in the case there are personal interests in those action that does not take the good deed out.

    There are good people, and there are not too good people, we are so unstable that the adjective good is not a right word of definition, in some of us that "good" helps us to help others and feel that well-being that accompany all acceptable actions, but there are other people who cannot get that perception.

    In the Global world we move today there are so few opportunities and so many applicants that there is only one way to win, as a professor in College used to say, half a joke, half a truth: "If you find a possible foe in your way up... kill him/her while it is a birdling. If it learns to fly you are lost!"

    I do not know if I kept my boundaries in your post, I tried to, I know there are many ways to find this horrible selfishness in human beings, even in those who should love us most.

    To end positively I will tell you a short story: there was once a farm with many hogs, one afternoon one of the piglets entangled itself into barbed wire, and started such ruckus that was heard a mile from the farm. So noisy was it that the farmer called one of his sons and told him "Go and free that poor piglet from the wire, it is hurting him..." and added "It do not let me sleep the "siesta". :)

    1. I understand that being selfish was necessary to survive. But times have changed and one could think that we have developped to some less selfish being but apparently we haven't at all.
      Maybe it is true that all our actions are in some way selfish, but, as you said, we should try to act more unselfish, even if it is because of personal interests and that is what I will do. I am not ready yet to completely give up my hope that there is something like unselfishness, although I do believe that most our motivation comes from selfishness. But admitting that there is absolutely no other force in our actions is too sad for me.
      Well, maybe I am not good in surviving and winning, because I don't want to kill anyone, not even figuratively.
      At least my brother taught me one thing and that is how I do not want to be.

  3. Very thoughtful post, Kleopatra. While it is true that selfishness is a common thing in humans so is collaboration and compassion. The society one lives in makes a difference, because some cultures will nurture or even celebrate selfishness. That tends to bring out the selfishness in people and place them in positions of authority. What's really important to remember that in such a society it's the selfish people who get noticed, so it seems like they are a far larger group than they really are.

    Human beings would never have made it without collaboration and taking care of each other. That is how human groups survive. What is different now than in the past is the sense that we are not just separate tribes but one human race. It's true that there is a lot of selfishness in our culture, but there are also a lot of wonderful and selfless people.

    1. It is true that the culture and society one lives in are important. But after all, the society is built by the people that live in it, so when a society celebrates selfishness that means maybe that the majority of people that live in it are selfish.

      That is a good thought that you mention here. I think you are right about how human groups survive by taking care of each other. Although one could say that the motivation behind this is again selfishness.

      Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts here!

  4. Hi, I'm not sure whether this story is about you or not, but I do hope it's not about you as I find difficult to digest how such a sweet person like can be sexually abused. I'd say go get some retribution.

    Indeed so many questions and so very few answers, and even you'd have all the answers it wouldn't make you feel better. I'm so sorry you're going through so much crap but I'm sure you're making the best out of it. I wanna believe that Germany offers you more opportunities than Moldova offers me. I'm rooting for you, I'll include you in my thoughts when I'll be thinking of those less fortunate that includes me also. I hate rich people, but not because they're rich, but because of what are they spending their fortunes.

    So nice of you leaving me a comment, glad I could do the same. By the way, I could help implement some commenting and sharing tools on your blog, think about it, I'm here for you.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Gabriel! Ah well, I intentionally didn't make quite sure whether the story is about myself or not, because I don't like telling too much about my family and anyway it was easier to write it that way. But yes, it is about me.

      I am living my own life now, and I hope I am making the best out of it. This is all past now. I hope you will be able to make the best out of your situation, too.

      Thank you!

  5. This is a post worth pondering. Reading the first part of it, I'm scared! This is the sort of thing that happens in some homes. Sexual abuse seems to grow by each day and the ugly side of it is when it happens among kin.

    It would be ok to do something for a cause. It depends on one's intention and what difference that person wants to see in someone else's life. The bottom line is doing something for a good cause.

    Then again, not everyone is willing to do so. It could be because of selfishness. Even among some well-off people, generosity doesn't come that easy. It could be they have been working hard to achieve the comfort of life and considering doing some charity would be another question.

    I'm glad to know you have a godson in Africa which I see as crossing the cultural barriers. That's really a deed to ensure that boy gets the proper education he needs.

    1. I think it is always terrible, but of course it is even worse when it is someone you should be able to trust and that should love you and when it happens for many years and you have to live with this person in the same house.

      I can understand that people who have been working hard for their money don't want to give it all away. But, as you said, it depends on one's intention. These people don't earn money to do something bad, but there are so many people that willingly hurt others and I do not understand that.

      I am always glad to cross the cultural barriers. :)
      Thank you for your comment!

  6. My thoughts exactly were echoed in your write-up.We are all mostly selfish and would continue to be so. Sacrifice means litle to people these days and that cuts across race, tribe or location(developed or undeveloped). It is frightening, I must say. I have seen siblings turn against each other all for selfish goals and aspirations.