I’ll tell you what the problem is here. You have probably been wondering what it is. You’ve been pondering about it in the back of your brain, without even knowing it. You probably never even acknowledged that it was a problem. But it is, so I’m going to tell you.
We are all selfish.
Before I go into this, I’m going to say something that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s true. I have my moments of cynical perception of the world: where sometimes I think it really is every man for themselves. At the end of the day, yes, it is just you and your thoughts. We should absolutely cherish and preserve our individuality; but isn’t it so much nicer to know that we all really care about each other? Whenever I start thinking like this, I think of my friends & family, blood-related or not, and all that they have sacrificed for me, all that they have done for me, and all that they love me for. I think of service men and women, people in healthcare, mental-health professionals, activists, and other good-hearted people that spend their lives caring about others. But I do still have these thoughts from time-to-time, and do you know why? It is because as I grow up, I realize how inherently egotistical we all are. Whenever I think about this, I think of adults. I think of a big city, a crowded street, when it’s dark and cold. Everyone is on their own journey, neglecting to acknowledge that there are people, everywhere: people that need help, people that need a smile, people. Do we ever even do so much as to make eye contact with a homeless person? Most times, we just go about our day, because we can. How often do we experience this? Where the heck did our sense of humanity go? And that isn’t meant to be negative, it’s just a horrific truth. I don’t want to continue growing up in a world where it seems that the only concern for so many is themselves.
You’re allowed to disagree with me, but hear me out. I think most things in life are multifaceted, so first I’m going to talk about why this is a good thing. First and foremost, if we all didn’t have a little selfish blood in us, we would spend so much time worrying about others and not enough about our own selves and our own needs. We would get lost. We would run ourselves down to the point of defeat. In fact some of the most selfless people I know are some of the most anxious & stressed out, because they forget that they are human, too. And I am a firm believer in “me time”. If we didn’t have “me time” I believe the world would combust. So yes, being a little selfish is necessary. And no, I’m not saying to wave and smile to every single person on the streets of Manhattan, because then you would just look creepy.
Now, I’m going to talk about balance.
As most things in life are multifaceted, that means that we have to find an equilibrium: a middle ground, a calm in the waves. Whenever I think of balance, I think of a yin yang and what it symbolizes: complementary forces where the whole is bigger than it’s parts. Not only does this represent us as individuals, but it really represents the human race in its entirety. Picture this when you’re struggling to find your own balance.
Now, back to the problem.
I am really sick and tired of people always being selfish. And to be frank, I refuse to accept that we are all assholes. Because we are not. It is not “just human nature” for us to only look out for ourselves, because human nature is a composition of biology and a social construction, and social construction is something we create. Yes, we are animals by nature, but we are socially and emotionally more complex and advanced. We are socialized beings: which means we have the power to choose how we are going to act. We have it in us to be good people. I’m not naive: I know there is evil, and plenty of it, but maybe if we just enforced being kind more often, including looking out for each other, and were consistently reminded of it from a young age, it can be the new “human nature.” It can stick with us. Let me remind you that none of us even knew what it meant to be selfish or even cruel at the time we were young. Those things are taught. I’m not going to discuss what happens when people are selfish because each of us see it on a day-to-day basis. Instead, I’m challenging not only everyone reading this, but myself, to be a little less self-consumed. A little less worried about what we need, and a little more worried about what others around us need. After all, we are all a product of our environment. So pay attention, listen, and as I always say, radiate love and kindness. It will benefit all of us. I’m not saying this will result in an everlasting wave of world peace, but maybe it will help.
Maybe if we weren’t so selfish we wouldn’t have so many people feeling alone when they’re surrounded by people. Maybe we wouldn’t have people creating horror and disturbance with their own heart, their own two hands, so people will notice them. Maybe if we just took a deep breath and acknowledged the simplicity of our day-to-day problems, engaged with each other even when we didn’t need to, and opened our eyes a little bit wider, we would see that we are all just humans living our lives.
If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that human connection, even in its smallest form, can make the largest impact. We don’t need to run ourselves down just to life each other up, but this is what the world needs.