We’re all quick to slate greedy and self-serving politicians and businessmen, and arguably we should, but what if the only difference between them and you are that you don’t possess the power and resources to act out your own selfishness on a grand scale?
A big problem with everyone having their individual perception of themselves and the world is that we get good people doing bad things, as well as bad people doing bad things.
One person thinks they’re doing God’s work by picketing dead soldier’s funerals while another person thinks they are enacting true justice by bombing ‘infidels’. This illustrates that we are, to a large extent, led and driven by our own biases and self-interests of what is okay.
As humans, I don’t think we are really all that different at a core level. We are all deeply selfish, which isn’t always a good or a bad thing, in that everything we do is in some way to help ourselves.
Accepting Selfishness is Liberating
We are hypocritical in the way that we condemn selfishness in order to feel morally superior to others, as well as to boost our own reputation of being a ‘nice’ person. The reality is that everything we do is, in some way, to benefit ourselves. From taking a daily shower to donating to charity, it all leads back to our own internal and external goals, and that is okay.
Once we accept that we are selfish and that all of us are selfish, we can begin to see people’s actions through their own perceptions more accurately, as well as what we might do in their shoes more clearly.
You can remove a healthy amount of guilt from your actions in that you know that everyone is acting as you are, even if they don’t realise it. This shouldn’t an invitation to become a morally corrupt person who only thinks of themselves as you can and do serve yourself in the process of serving others. This is just accepting your own needs before the needs of others, and that you have an innate drive to look after number one.
Many will try to assert that the above attitude is the wrong way to look at the world and they are free to do so. However, it is my belief that those people are unwilling to accept the harsh truth of being a living organism. Accept that everything you do is in some way self-serving and stop fighting it, you’ll feel better.
You’re Not All That Different From the ‘Bad Guys’
At this point, I would put forward the controversial notion that most of us would do the same as British Prime Minister David Cameron in the whole Panama Papers controversy. He would conserve resources for himself and his family of ‘elites’ without losing money to taxes which would not benefit him.
Has the privately educated and silver-spoon fed individual ever needed there to be money going into public schools, national health care, or financial aid for the poor? Not for the purposes of living at an acceptable quality of life like the common man. So why should he care? He probably doesn’t, and you might not either if you were in his position.
Everyone would do something they know is immoral if they knew for a fact that they could get away with it. Just thinking about this really puts into perspective how moral people really are, not as much as you and them would both like to believe.
If you were Mr Cameron, feeling superior and invincible, like you could get away scot-free with hiding money offshores, you would likely do it too. Hopefully, you would be clever enough to get away with it, for your own sake. It’s easy to get behind a morally good idea when their enforcement benefits us, but as soon as they don’t provide us with what we want, these ideas are not so attractive. For example, I’m sure most of us have wanted to hurt someone physically even though we believe violence to be wrong.
Like myself, you deserve the right to dislike someone like Mr Cameron for his corrupt behaviour. He has done something which has affected you and many others across the UK negatively, as well as showing that he cares more about himself and friends than the needs of the many. However, I’m willing to bet most of us care more about ourselves and our friends/family than the needs of the many, just like Mr Cameron.
The main difference between us and him is that we just don’t have the power, resources, or exposure to show this dark side to the world, and for the world to care in response to our behaviour.
You Don’t Have to Forgive, But You Should Relate
I’m not about to support Mr Cameron for his blatant self-serving actions, they don’t benefit me or the needs of the many do they? However, what I will do is accept that in his position I might not be so quick to ascend to the moral high-ground myself. I don’t think any of you would be likely to either.
Consider accepting your own selfishness as part of who you are instead of fighting it. It doesn’t mean only ever doing things for yourself, nor does it mean you should act like a corrupt politician. It means knowing that everything you do, and everything that everyone else does, has an undertone of self-serving motive, both conscious and unconscious.
Accept that this is okay and you will feel liberated.