One of the most universal and “respectable pressures is selfishness. Some go as far as to say that without selfishness very little can be accomplished in this world. Experience teaches us, however, that the consequences of such conduct can never truly contribute to the well-being of humanity.
Excessive self-interest lowers our sensitivity to the rights of others and to the common good. It makes close understanding between individuals difficult and impossible and makes it extremely hard to maintain honorable friendships and constructive affections.
Selfishness abuses all privileges, including the privilege to live constructively. Many of us are taught to be selfish, but this is one lesson that must be unlearned, unless we all enjoy suffering. We may say to ourselves, “every man must think first of himself in this highly competitive society,” but unfortunately self-centeredness can never protect anyone.
Egotism is an aspect of selfishness and a top-ranking destroyer of health and happiness. Very few people like to admit that they are egoists. They prefer to take on the attitude that they are always right, and superior to others in their opinions, beliefs and convictions.
An egoist cannot afford to admit their own mistakes. To sustain their self-delusion they must win every argument and dominate every situation. Society conspires against them by letting them have their own way. No sensible person will bother with a closed mind.
An egoist is seldom happy, for they live constantly on the defensive. Their sense of superiority is their most valued possession, and they must protect it at all costs. Because they cannot be taught, they remain ignorant and inadequate. Their decisions are usually poor and their conduct often offensive. He is never able to figure out how he can be so correct in his judgment and at the same time so miserable.
In religion the egotist enjoys privileges not available to them in business, industry, or domestic relationships. It is very easy to abuse the right to one’s spiritual convictions. In a religious argument there are few facts available to either of the contestants. Often the person who talks the loudest and fastest can count themselves the winner. We just note, that most holy wars have been started by egotists willing to sacrifice the brotherhood of man for the sake of winning an argument.
Such attitudes permit us to resent the self-interest of others, and to accept our own selfishness as right and proper, or at least inevitable. Through long association with ourselves, we have gained the ability to live in a state of uneasy comfort with our own peculiarities. The laws and processes operating us are unknown, ignored, or forgotten. We simply do as we please, whether it really pleases us or not.
But, true happiness can seldom, if ever, be achieved by selfish or self-centered persons. Neither wealth nor distinction can confer real contentment. It has been said in the old Arabic proverbs that happiness, is always a by-product. It is an effect, the cause of which is enlightened conduct.
An educated person should not be selfish, for the primary purpose of enlightened education is to educate selfishness out of the individual.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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