The 365 Commitment

On Being Selfish

Most people raised in one of the major religious traditions will tend to view selflessness as the ideal to strive for. The thought of focusing on your own happiness is something that you can pursue, but better would be to sacrifice your own needs for that of others. I suppose that I subscribe to that mentality. However, pause for a moment and consider that perhaps selflessness is actually one of major problems in our society today. The pressure to remove the value of the individual and to embrace group think, probably escalated by social media, has caused a lack of self worth, individual identity and even pursuit of merit, for merit alone. The feeling of pride and accomplishment of producing something great rather then just being something because you belong to something.

Rugged individualism was value taken for granted in the United States. An ideal that everyone seemed to gravitate towards. James Dean, Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood. The underlying desire to put self aside fuels a feeling that the considerations of group think are good, because the objective is always painted as altruistic and doing something to help one group or another. We are painted as members, non members, allies and enemies. No one is going to argue the need to think past your own needs and consider the needs of others, especially a group deemed worthy. However, perhaps we should take a step back and ask ourselves, what is really wrong with selfishness?

If everyone was truly selfish, truly seeking only their own happiness as their objective, then what would society really be like? People think it would be chaos, anarchy, mayhem around every corner. However, would it? Overtime, people would reach the inevitable conclusion that hurting others in any deliberate way will produce disastrous results for your individual happiness. However, you would learn overtime, that personal achievement, a standard of morality, and above all the need to produce something of value. In a world of individuals all achieving the best they can, they are only going to connect with, share relationships with and trade with those that have something meaningful to provide them. Independent, free thinking, rational people all trying to build value is what selfishness would produce.

The is the anti-relativist concept. Anti-post modern. What Ayn Rand would call objectivist. Whatever you call it, individualism is actually less full fo conflict then the very nature of group think, which is absolutely predicated upon conflict. US versus THEM. I think I will stay selfish thank you very much. More me against me. I chose not to join your group, I will just be me and the best me that I can come up with.


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