Selfish vs. Selfless

Being selfless isn’t easy. In fact, most people don’t manage it to save their lives. And for good reason. Biologically speaking, humans are built to be selfish; not because we’re assholes but because it’s a survival mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, humans ARE assholes as well! But I digress…

Selfishness is a survival mechanism, because if our ancestors weren’t selfish with their food and gathering of basic needs, they wouldn’t have survived to evolve into what we are today. But considering the fact that we are a society of self-aware people who understand the difference between right and wrong, shouldn’t selflessness become the priority?

The average person with any modicum of common sense would assume so, but it’s still surprising how easy it is for people to remain selfish in the face of situations where they could and should be thinking of others instead. Allow me to provide an example…

Let’s say you walk into your Christmas staff party. You feel light-headed and check your blood glucose level to see that you’re running low. You walk over to the buffet table and notice that there’s only one piece of sugared food left. As you reach for it, someone else grabs for it and picks it up. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar. The other person shrugs and takes a bite. You ask if they have Diabetes, to which they reply that they do not. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar as you ARE Diabetic. The other person says something akin to it being your problem, not theirs and walks away while munching on the sugared food you needed.

So, who’s right? Does what that person did make sense? Sure, it’s easy to figure that it isn’t the second person’s problem and that since it’s a first come, first serve buffet, they’re totally entitled to that piece of food. But let’s consider that word for a moment: entitled. If it comes at the cost of someone else’s well-being, are we ever truly “entitled” to something? The second person really had no need of that piece of food, they simply wanted it. Even faced with someone else’s genuine need, they selfishly choose to keep it for themselves.

And no, this specific scenario didn’t happen to me (although something similar may have taken place to someone close to me recently). I’m merely using this example to illustrate a point.

In a modern world where we understand the difference between right and wrong and are able to realize when someone genuinely has a need for something, there’s nothing wrong with being selfless enough to step aside and let the other person have the moment. After all, there’s enough suffering in the world. We, as people, should recognize that it’s our responsibility to lessen that suffering. ☯

Published by

Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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