Archive for April, 2014

A Selfish Perspective

Homo sapiens are relatively new creatures, finding our niche in a world long built on, as far as we know, a general absence of self-awareness.  A world built on simple life and death, where success was defined by reproduction over time.  Some may debate we are born of a design, battle-tested and echoed over millennia, steeped in a requirement for basic resources.  Maslow catalogued human needs many years ago.  If you will, for the next few paragraphs, humor yourself any argument of creation or evolution, and think of wealth and success in our day and age.  If you’re reading this, you may be on a computer or an Internet-enabled device, presumably educated, and so absorb that our world is defined by a population where 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 US a day and where the richest 20% of the world’s population accounts for about 75% of the world’s income.+

Many who read the first paragraph may scoff and think that the next words will be focused on socialistic or communistic ideology, but they would be wrong.  Many will turn away, right now, dismissing what will be said next.  We need competition.  We need freedom.  We need to challenge ourselves with measurement of others around us.  We must compete – it is in our DNA.  The recipe of our survival is full of primal, instinctive, and survivalistic need.  The drive to be the dominant species of our planet, but also to dominate the others around us has made us a successful force of nature, in terms of propagation and terraforming, much to the detriment of all the beings that inhabit our space rock, and in so many cases, even ourselves.  Collectively, we can do amazing things, and in the face of collective danger, humanity has come together in such substantive ways that it boggles the mind why we have not learned how to direct our selfishness, and build on this collective capacity.

Manhattan, New York 1873

Manhattan, New York – Today

Learning and studying of a woman named Ayn Rand, stumped me for many years.  The Liberal dream of collective altruism shriveled when this woman took it to the edge of reason.  This woman made selfishness en vogue.  Political entities engulfed and assimilated the concept to bring justification to ritualized uncaring, except if it profited their existence.  Ayn Rand’s description of selfishness, though undesirable to those trapped in the whirlpools of cultural socioeconomic incapacitation, made complete sense.  No matter how my brain sliced and diced this concept, there was no way around it.  Our individual lives are selfish.  We have to be selfish!  We have no one to be accountable to but ourselves.  The attention and support of friends and family is a precious gift that will never be guaranteed.  Our code says we need to perpetuate our existence.  That is life at all levels – luck and selfishness.

Ayn Rand

Selfishness is benefited through collaboration of resources, which without Rand looks awfully ironical.  A successful life is one where other people invest their time and relationship capital with you, in varying degrees that makes friends, children, families, business, cities, countries, societies, religions, and governments. This construct is repeated over and over again.  When any of these constructs are threatened, people resolve themselves to obstruct the elimination of the life that may have benefitted them in some way, none so much as the individual whose life might be on the line for elimination.  This brought me the concept that an economy, while born of a construct of human behavior, takes on the characteristics of life.  The people involved in that economy, where the economy may be of thought, money, influence, and/or sex, people while protect that economy tooth and nail.  The kicker is, we possess the resources AND the mechanisms to give everyone on the planet basic caloric intake, basic shelter, and healthcare, but we don’t do it.  Fundamentally, our selfishness is more raw than the selfishness defined by Rand.  Most of us recoil at the thought that a natural law of give and take must exist, and so selfishness is defined by what you take.  However, the enlightened selfish will find that giving is as much a part of the taking, to gain a positive sum.  Selfishness is an investment.

At this point, we could discuss capitalism, communism, socialism, value systems, religion, competition, and many other –isms, quite assuredly.  Let’s not.  Let’s figure out a new –ism, a new way of living where people will still lose, but not their livelihoods or their very lives themselves, and where the winners push humanity forward.  To new planets, to better energy sources, where the economy that matters is all of ours – collectively selfish.  An economy where we are all at stake for the forward progress, where education gets more resources than prisons, where those that seek only to harm are persecuted to the fullest extent of law’s wrath, where love is embraced regardless of the genitals the DNA dice gave you, and where religion is a choice of one of many a path to a concept we finally realize no one human can comprehend.  A world where we possess the power, not over each other, but power to better humanity, to fuel compassion and freedom, and promote a world where the economy, where the competition is to bring out the best in humanity.  That is selfish, and a selfish plan I can get behind.

Is it utopian to believe this way?  Not at all!  Not everyone can be happy all the time.  There is no individual utopia in a competitive society.  Suffering will and must continue to exist, but changing the scope of suffering is paramount.  Where you can still win more than someone else, and be rewarded for your wins.  Finding failure for an idea in a competitive economy of compassion is far better than suffering while your body wastes away in a disease-ridden land, in the dirt, while your mother cries for not being able to provide the most basic elements to sustain your life.  We can do whatever we put our minds to do.  Imagine a world full of healthcare and science, where human beings could live hundreds of years.  This could yield long distance space travel and imagine the wisdom harvested from such a full life.  Nature saw fit for us to have this brain, to give us ideas, and find solutions to bear fruit to our success.  The time is now to make it happen.  You have to choose it!  No one can truly make you do anything – it’s not a right.  You have the choice to make this happen.  We can build a free world, where we can appreciate what we have, and still want more.  What was is not what always will be.  Be selfish – want more than you ever dreamed possible!

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s another perspective. Be aware, some language may be objectionable to you, and that’s OK.

April 18, 2014 at 12:09 PM Leave a comment


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