Monday, January 3, 2011

On Selfishness

There seems to be a growing sense of self-entitlement in the world (or maybe I'm just becoming more sensitive to it?).  So, in support of this self-absorption, I am going to focus on MY revulsion to this trend.  This selfishness has raised its ugly head at my work recently, and it has floored me to the extent people are willing to take their own interests over the concerns of others.  

Why in the world does anyone think he or she has the right to hold themselves as more important than another?  What kind of childhood did these individuals have?  Did their parents never tell them, "no"?  Did they always get that piece of candy at the store when they threw a fit about it?  Did they never have to share with a brother or sister?  What is WRONG with these people?!?

I admit that I have my very selfish moments, and am very short-sighted on what is important beyond myself.  This can't be avoided unless one is Ghandi, Mother Theresa, or The Dalai Lama.  But I would like to think that these moments are limited in duration, and punctuated by other times of awareness, caring, and respect.  When I think about it, these are qualities that were strongly reinforced by my upbringing.

My brother and I heard "no" a whole heck of a lot.  And in my family, "no" meant NO. Period.  Not, "maybe, if you harass me enough I'll give in."  We didn't throw many fits; they never worked.  We were promptly walked out of stores, restaurants, and any other public place in which we may be disturbing others.  And it was made very clear that the reason we left was because we were not being respectful of the other people in the store/restaurant/etc.

Whenever we got a treat, we had to share it with each other.  And we found a great way to make sure that neither of us got more than the other:  You cut, I choose.  I can just picture one of us measuring so very carefully and slowly to make sure that the other one didn't get any more than the other!

My parents were sure that we were brought up with the understanding that neither one of us was more (or less) important than the other.  We were taught to be aware of our surroundings, and that our needs do not and should not take precedence over anyone else's.  While we may very much want something for ourselves, that isn't always the best thing for everyone.  And it's better to choose what's best for the most people not just me. 

Don't get me wrong, my childhood was not so great or superior.  But I think that the values I learned were important.  And seem to be sorely missing in a lot of people today.  I wish that people would take the time to ask themselves, "Is my decision the best for everyone?"  But, that's kind of selfish of me, isn't it?


  1. It's not selfish of you. I notice it on a daily basis from co-workers, customers and even just people in grocery stores and on the road. It's like they think they're the center of the universe and nobody else shares the planet. I think that anymore it's a cultural thing. I could go more into detail but ... maybe I'll do it in my journal. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I thought that maybe it was cultural, too, but then I think about what's going on around the world and I see it everywhere. Maybe is a big 3 religion thing?

  3. Well said, mama... this very thought entered my mind when I was at Target the other day. A father was caving into his screaming 2 year old because she wanted something. False tears and whining until he gave her the toy. Then there was happiness. I thought "Wow... Imagine when she is 16... he created the monster."

    Just like you, we grew up w/a heck of a lot of NO and No meant no...period... don't even ask a 2nd time. The upbringing we had growing up is a stark contrast to what kids are growing up with now. Behavior is learned and when parents keep caving and enabling bad behavior, they are the ones to blame when those kids grow up to be worse as adults.
    Just my thoughts. :)