Don't Sacrifice Yourself For Me. . .

Is It Evil To Be Selfish?

- Glorifying sacrifice has made us foolish. . .

I believe that currently the world is being heavily misguided down a path of pseudo intellectualism that values the notions of altruism and sacrifice so much to the extreme that people may one day find themselves awakened to the existence of slavery. If everyone followed the belief in sacrificing their own well being for others, then the end result would be that simply everyone becomes sacrificed for sacrificial sake. We would all end up deprived, desolate, possibly enslaved, and eventually dead.

People are afraid to ask; "what do I want?" That's perceived as selfish. People no longer take any time to contemplate and evaluate their own minds and themselves. They have no "me time" anymore. I'm afraid to say, but many down time hours of self-reflection and indulgence are necessary if we wish to have an educated and productive society. By this I mean hard self-reflection and play time, not the passive type most experience by watching television. "Work hard, play hard" here being the motto. I see a lot of work hard in our society, but not a lot of play hard, and most of the work hard is resources and energy put towards pleasing other people. I would go on to classify it as a psychotic disorder where the individual slowly cannibalizes himself or herself.

We're misled and pressurized from society to steer away from our own perceived selfish thoughts in many regards. The first myth is that desired selfishness is the "easy path." The belief here is that selfish thinking processes are short term, impulsive, and impatient. This couldn't be further from the truth. Deciding what you want out of life: Your goals, your ambitions, your decisions, your likes and dislikes, your beliefs, your values, etc. is a monumental task. Figuring out how exactly you'll go about achieving such visions is a daunting task. Weighing the different levels of risk you have to take is enough to make your head spin. Actually taking action upon these thoughts is most often a seemingly impossible task. What is now perceived as "selfishness" is in fact incredibly difficult.

The second myth is that such selfish thinking processes are harmful to others. This is fear mongering perpetuated by people who lack genuine confidence to make ethical and productive decisions. By thinking and acting upon your own self interests, provided you’re intelligent and thoughtful in how you conduct yourself, you elect to neither harm nor benefit another. Your actions are essentially as neutral as taking a shower or a bath everyday. There is no evil in simply going about your business. I could make an argument the world as we know it would be a much better place if we all mind our own business.

But wouldn't robbing a bank or killing a rival be in my own self-interest? If I act within my own self interest, then surely I would commit many such evil deeds? No, you wouldn't, because such actions wouldn't be in your own self-interest. For starters, the chances of you robbing a bank and not getting caught are close to zero. You put yourself in serious jeopardy of losing your freedom. You'll need to decide if the quick thrill and spending spree of robbing a bank is a decent risk in exchange for the real possibility of ending up in jail. As for murdering a rival this isn’t in your own best interest. Nobody lives in a vacuum. His family will most likely seek revenge and try to have you killed. Yes, you may have eliminated your enemy, but in so doing you have eliminated yourself. In the end you lose.

The third myth is that acting upon your own benefits is selfish to begin with. No, what's incredibly selfish is the belief that just because you're optimistic, kind-hearted, and giving you have the answers for what is best to help the world and save people. If you were dying, would you accept open heart surgery from that guy who is well meaning or that disgruntled doctor who's just in it for the money? My guess is you would choose the disgruntled and selfish doctor. His motivations matter not, he did save your life, did he? Chances are the well meaning fellow would have just made your condition worse, or even fatal.

The facts of the matter are by working to better yourself, benefit yourself, and enhance yourself; you'll inadvertently be better capable of helping others, whether you desire to do so or not. While at first choosing this path may seem incredibly selfish, isolated, and self-absorbed, given time people will come to appreciate what you have to offer, but you must give it time. In the mean time, you must resist the temptation others put on you to move towards other "unselfish" endeavors. You must work on yourself, and make yourself the best you can be, before you should even dare contemplate helping others. Only through accepting personal responsibility, and having a constant desire to enrich yourself, can you have the "super powers" to make a difference in not only your life, but the life of others.

-Donovan D. Westhaver

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EmpressFelicity profile image

EmpressFelicity 5 years ago from Kent, England, UK

Have you read any stuff by Ayn Rand? She said exactly the same things that you do here and although I can't accept all of her political beliefs, I do think she was right in a lot of respects. Nice hub - I couldn't agree more BTW.


DonDWest profile image

DonDWest 5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Author

I've never read any Ayn Rand material. Honestly, I don't read much of any fictional works as a writer because I'm afraid of copying other people's ideas. Quite often, I inadvertently come to the same conclusions as other famous writers. When that happens, I check out their work. I'll be visiting my local library and will read some Rand this weekend (monster books). A quick Google reveals that Ayn Rand was a Zionist. Zionists will always be my enemy. Can't in good conscious support anyone with that political belief, but the fact someone with that political lineage could possibly agree with me on something makes it all the more interesting.

This hub was written in response to a certain friend of mine who thought I should spend more time volunteering just to "look good," despite the fact my hands are already full working full time, writing a novel (going through the editing process with a publisher), investing, and trying to start another little side business. I told him I could probably do more to help people by spending my time doing what I’m currently doing rather than simply pouring soup in a soup kitchen. The article did sway his opinion, btw.


Sivis 5 years ago

Wow, nice hub. However, the points that you make seem to me rather general.

Myth1: Selfish thoughts are the easy way. In most cases, I would argue that this is the truth. When one simply looks out for oneself, this style of thought is surely easier that looking out for others.

Myth2: Selfish thinking processes are harmful to others. Again, I think in the majority of cases, selfish thinking will result in the harm of others. Greed, and lust just to name two, are both inherently selfish thinking processes that can ruin others financially and emotionally.

Myth3: Acting upon your own benefits is selfish to begin with. Yes, if you are acting for your benefit, it is selfish!

I don't think that your paper deals with the social stigmas regarding selfishness as much as it shows societies inability or unwillingness to look inwards. This lack of desire regarding self-reflection and introspection is evidenced daily in all of the distractions of modern day life. However, I don't think that this stems from a lack of selfish thinking, or fears associated with being perceived as a selfish person. Rather, it stems from a deeply rooted fear that when people finally do sit down and look at what they have become throughout the course of their lives, that they will not like what they see. Indeed, I would argue that it is fear of the self that inhibits such reflection.


DonDWest profile image

DonDWest 5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Sivis:

"Myth 1: Selfish thoughts are the easy way. In most cases, I would argue that this is the truth. When one simply looks out for oneself, this style of thought is surely easier that looking out for others."

Ask someone to help themselves, and they're perpetually at a loss as to what to do. Ask someone for ideas to help another, and they hand a list. It is easier to look out for others than yourself.

"Myth 2: Selfish thinking processes are harmful to others. Again, I think in the majority of cases, selfish thinking will result in the harm of others. Greed, and lust just to name two, are both inherently selfish thinking processes that can ruin others financially and emotionally."

I explained that long term very rarely is that the case. I don't believe it's the selfish thoughts that causes a person to destroy others and put themselves on a path of self-destruction. I'll be writing a hub soon, a part II, that helps to further enhance some of what I have explained here. Selfish thought can turn destructive if it's not "properly tuned." The title of this hub will be: "The Virtues of Shame and Guilt."

"Myth 3: Acting upon your own benefits is selfish to begin with. Yes, if you are acting for your benefit, it is selfish!"

If you're not acting upon your own benefits, then you're acting upon the perceived benefits of another, which is MORE selfish? It's a complicated matter with no easy answers. I sort of went through (still sorting through) a "early mini-midlife crisis" when I came to this realization.

"I don't think that your paper deals with the social stigmas regarding selfishness as much as it shows societies inability or unwillingness to look inwards. This lack of desire regarding self-reflection and introspection is evidenced daily in all of the distractions of modern day life. However, I don't think that this stems from a lack of selfish thinking, or fears associated with being perceived as a selfish person. Rather, it stems from a deeply rooted fear that when people finally do sit down and look at what they have become throughout the course of their lives, that they will not like what they see. Indeed, I would argue that it is fear of the self that inhibits such reflection."

It's true we have less free time on our hands than during my parent's generation, but don't you find it's a tad odd that for the few minutes of spare time we have, we don't even allow ourselves a single second to look from within? When people have a minute of spare time, they're always worrying about other people, never themselves.


DonDWest profile image

DonDWest 5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Author

sdy53;

I wished to e-mail you, but you’ve blocked that feature. Your constant accusations of plagiarism were deleted and for good reasons. For starters, I never read the book in question until today when I picked it up at the library.

There are billions upon billions of books published throughout human history, the chances of two writers inadvertently coming across the same idea/philosophies are a given. It's for this reason why I don't read fiction (when as a writer I probably should), because I'm afraid I'll copy ideas, but the fact of the matter is so much has already been written and documented throughout our time, that accidentally crisscrossing ideas are a given.

I've been accused of a lot of things, but being unoriginal is a first. I'm not a person to self-promote, but my writing style is unique and you won't find anything else like it online. Trust me when I say, I’ve had a few run-ins with the admissions team at Hubpages behind the scenes due to some of my Hubs treading on “thin lines.” If I plagiarized, they would have torn it down immediately no questions asked.

I've been characterized as a radical by both left and right of the political spectrum. I've been referred to as "the radical centrist" by my editor.

This hub is actually but a small sample of my "off-time" book: Befriending Your Dark Emotions. It's what I write when I get bored of my main novel series. The book is a novella explaining the virtues of some emotions we perceive as evil and toss away, only to allow such emotions to build up and cause us to make many regrettable mistakes. Speaking of which, the virtue of regret is one of the chapters. So is guilt, shame, anger, bluntness (a hub which you commented on), selfishness, demand, sadness, despair, and it even works its way up to hate. Yes, even hate can be beneficial and not necessarily a device of evil depending on perspective.

Of course I changed the title for SEO reasons. I have changed the titles of my hubs many times for SEO reasons; that's nothing new.

You want me to cite passages from Ayn Rand? What passages exactly? I have the book right here in front of me. Our writing style isn't even remotely similar, nothing is copied and pasted. We even disagree on a few issues of how selfishness can be used beneficially. Rand takes mostly an individual perspective; she seems to take little care in the concept of a person accidentally helping another. She also sees little value in personal introspection, only ambition. Rand is a rabid neo-libertarian and focuses mostly on this narrow lens.

Geez, get a grip of yourself before shouting murder, murder, murder! What's next? Will you accuse George Lucas of plagiarizing the Holy Bible? Last I checked, an idea/concept doesn’t have a copyright.

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