Selfish character: a valid idea?

You may feel uncomfortable about your future. What fate has in store for us. And what will happen to you after you die if you have a somewhat selfish character?

On the other hand, people might think that being self-oriented is a good thing. They ask, what’s wrong with loving myself? After all, don’t we have to deal with number one to survive and be successful? Yes, I would say that it is good to make our own way and not be a burden on society. Not taking care of ourselves is useless to anyone. So if caring for yourself is good, what is really meant by a selfish life?

According to Richard Whately (English philosopher and theologian) “A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbors.

I would suggest that people who are really selfish are willing to exploit others for the sake of their own pleasures. In their dealings they are selfish even if it means being thoughtless, dishonest and stingy. Extreme selfishness tends to lead to being sarcastic, obnoxious, and even malicious when one’s desires are thwarted.

We might wonder about the fate after death of those who constantly act selfishly. If we are really going to reap what we sow, what are the negative effects of this kind of karma?

Can some of us help to have a selfish character?

We behave in a certain way for a mixture of reasons. Both chance and choice enter the picture. So, you may wonder, how can we be responsible for whatever way we live our life? Don’t we have all kinds of wishes and intentions? In fact, it is a common opinion today that we are all born with a mixture of positive and negative tendencies. Have natural streaks of both goodness and selfishness, generosity and also greed, virtues as well as vices.

In addition, it is generally thought that there are a lot of external elements outside of our control that affect us. Social scientists can show the connection between poor mental health and the traumatic experience. Also between crime and poverty. By needing social acceptance from our adolescent peers, we may adjust to their social norms, which can be delinquent in the eyes of others.

Are external factors solely responsible for how we live our lives?

That’s how I see it. Each of us started out in the world as children influenced, yes, by all kinds of things. Genetic makeup, family upbringing, community standards, and any difficulties affect our behavior. So it is true that we have particular inherited tendencies and individual life experiences that affect us. As science has shown, ‘nature and education’ both play an important role in human development.

But also, there is a spiritual perspective. As we grow, I would say that each of us becomes our own person. No matter in what circumstances we start, we develop as individuals with our own concerns and priorities. We gradually choose our own values ​​and aspirations.

I’m trying to argue that what we become depends on our response to the world around us. How we react to challenging experiences. Do we face setbacks badly or well? Do you linger on failure or do you just keep going? Give in or resist the charms of life that can lead to illusion and suffering? I would say that it all comes down to us making our own decisions.

Are we responsible for our individual character?

Similarly, the criminal justice system assumes that we are accountable in court for obeying or disobeying the law. We are responsible for our conduct because we choose to follow or go against social rules.

This view is also in line with existential philosophy. The cornerstone of this tradition is the recognition of the reality of inner freedom. It may not always be possible to do what we want, such as when we are in distress, subject to tyrannical pressures, or have bodily disabilities, but nevertheless we are free to think and have the intentions that we want.

We may not be free from social limitations in what we do and say outwardly. But don’t we exercise inner freedom to think and try what we want? And do you do this constantly from day to day, hour to hour, and minute to minute? If so, over time, a pattern will gradually emerge in the way one is reacting to circumstances. An underlying attitude to life grows. And this forms our individual character. I’d say it may or may not be selfish, but that’s our choice. We end up being who we are and getting what we want, according to what we want most.

Razor’s edge

How we end up getting what we have wanted inside is illustrated in W. Somerset Maugham’s 1944 novel ‘Razor’s edge’.

Hailed as a masterpiece, it tells the story of Larry Darrell, an American pilot traumatized by his experiences in the First World War. His rejection of conventional life and his search for some meaningful transcendent experience allows him to thrive inwardly.

His fiancee Isabel Bradley cannot accept his vision of life and breaks his engagement to return to Chicago. There she marries a millionaire who provides her with a rich family life. However, she is still in love with Larry. His destiny is that he will never find Larry, who has decided to live as a common worker. He is not interested in the rich and glamorous world in which Isabel will move. Other characters in the book also ended up getting what they wanted, albeit tragically in some cases.

It is said ‘We are what we eat’. Our bodies become healthy or unhealthy according to the foods and drinks that we choose to consume regularly. Likewise, do our minds become spiritually healthy or sick according to the intentions and fantasies that we often entertain? The habits of thought that we form?

According to Swedenborg, throughout life on earth, one gradually creates one’s own inner character. Each person behaves as they want. In doing so, the delight of your own life and ‘ruling love’ it is formed gradually. For example, on the one hand, I may be concerned about gaining social status or, on the other hand, I may be more focused on playing useful roles. As a business person, my emphasis may be more on making money, or on the other hand, more concerned with fair dealings with suppliers or employees.

As a regular pattern develops in my life, I assume what I primarily aspire to. I attach myself to things, fears, hopes, values, etc., and I make them my own along with the thoughts that justify them.

Isn’t the idea of ​​selfishness a polarized thought?

You may wonder, if we choose our attitudes, who decides if they are selfish? You cannot behave selfishly out of naivety. In response, I would say yes, that self-centered action could occur because we do not fully appreciate the consequences of what we are doing. How it hurts someone else. Perhaps our friends improperly influenced us to engage in, say, malicious behavior or petty crime. This may not become an established pattern if we respond well when light is shed on the matter. If we accept the errors of our ways and the negative effects on others.

In other words, you may see the concept of selfishness as polarized thinking. But I don’t think this is a good reason not to use the word. Because it would suggest that there are degrees of selfishness.

How selfish you behave depends on how much you dedicate yourself to what you want. Let’s take selfishness just a little bit, then this could result in, say, envy for those who have what we want. Apply it more, then this feeling could turn into disgust. Spread it even further and we might feel anger or even hatred for those who have what we want for us. And engage with him even more fully, then we may wish to cause harm to others to please our own desires.

I would argue that a more serious type of selfishness is due to the strong desires of those of us who, when we stop to think, realize that our greed is hurting others. But we forget and we get caught up in the feelings of the moment and we don’t stop to reflect.

Serious selfishness

According to this framework of thought, the gravest of all is selfishness that leads to sadistic violence or murder planned and therefore intentionally carried out by those of us who convince ourselves that we are doing nothing wrong. I guess this more serious level is less common. It’s unusual even for the average cop to come across someone twisted to the core.

Is talking about selfishness simply being a moralist?

You may be wondering if the idea of ​​selfishness is simply moralistic. It is true that to speak of a ‘ruling love’ of selfishness is to adopt a moral stance. But I would like to say that the question of selfishness and altruism is central to social norms. This issue appears to be at the center of several societal concerns, such as the ethics of environmental policy in relation to pollution, business ethics in relation to financial fraud, and the ethics of personal conduct that could address sexual disloyalty and betrayal. . Do you have to be a moralist to think this way?

The teaching of Confucianism, a Chinese tradition, is that the evil of selfishness arises because people do not allow their feelings and actions to be in harmony with their own humanity, for example, they do not treat others with respect and the feeling of companionship. that corresponds to them. We have a similar idea in Yoga. One of its eight fundamental principles is to avoid selfish actions. In fact, each of the major religions has a list of ethical guidelines that they encourage us to follow.

When I allow myself to immerse myself in the selfish consumer society. I walk away from the deeper spiritual life with its concern for nature, people in need, etc. By having malice and despising others, I separate myself from the spirit of compassion. By acting foolishly in a superficial way, I depart from the spirit of wisdom. In other words, by going deeper into selfishness, I create my own negative karma. Or in common parlance we say that a person ‘creates his own hell’.

Buddhism ‘eight noble paths’ include ‘correct speech’, ‘good action’ and ‘correct sustenance’. In other words, correct moral conduct. In Buddhist cosmology we find the term ‘naraka ‘ generally referred to in English as “hell”. But the Buddhist version differs from the old Christian in that individuals are not sent there. No judgment is incurred when one reaches the ‘pearl gates’. There is no divine reward or punishment. Instead, karma implies self-determination.

How would you summarize selfishness?

Chadwick Boseman, American actor (who played baseball player Jackie Robinson) put it this way.

“The only difference between a hero and a villain is that the villain chooses to use that power in a way that is selfish and hurts other people.”

So in all this, it is not external action but internal motivation that counts.

Choosing between looking one way or another every day and every day is a life-long process and can be a life-long struggle. Are we not responsible for the values ​​and behavior that we choose to make our own?


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