Every crime committed by anyone anywhere in the world is based in the idea of selfishness.
Bank robbery: I want money. Murder: I want someone gone. Running a red light: I want to be on time. Stealing a loaf of bread for a hungry child: I want to end that child’s hunger. Regardless of its degree, all crime is an act of selfishness.
Think about that. No seriously, think about it. Accept it.
Selfishness is the gateway drug to indifference. Indifference destroys humanity.
It’s like this—laws are established so that societies can function. When people break laws, they are deemed criminals and are punished for their crimes.
But what if all these crimes are due to an inability to look beyond self? If selfishness is the bane of humanity, the opposite must also be true. Right?
The literal opposite of selfishness is selflessness.
Giving. Volunteerism. Donating. Caring for your neighbors. Anything that gets you out of self. Selflessness resurrects and serves humanity so that societies work to the betterment of all.
I’m not a religion guy, and the bible absolutely confounds me, but Christianity is a pretty huge religion that spans the globe. And as far as I can tell Jesus basically preached the idea of selflessness. Kindness. Love. Caring for each other. All that. He also wasn’t fond of money hoarders, but that’s another story. No, what He talked about was selflessness as a path to peace (or heaven, if you prefer).
And I’m certain that the core mission of every major religion on earth is to serve fellow man.
But when you look out beyond your convenient, safe life bubble, you’ll see that selfishness is the foundation of most of the world’s problems. Even though so many of us claim to be “religious.”
Something’s wrong. Either we’re not being taught well when we attend religious services, or the message of service to each other is too passive in such an aggressive world.
We’re all capable of selfishness. It’s easy. Especially in the US where each citizen has the opportunity, nay, the responsibility to grab as much of the American Dream as we can.
However, we’re also all capable of selflessness. Only this isn’t so easy. Rather than engaging in action that has direct ROI (bank accounts, cars, second homes, etc.) and that we can easily justify spending our time and energy on, selflessness doesn’t have the same payoff. It’s a tough sell in the west. It’s not as sexy as the alternative.
So we engage in selflessness in moderation, if at all. But hey, we go to church and put an envelope in the plate when they pass it, or we PayPal a disaster, so it’s all good.
Look, I don’t believe anyone is capable of absolute selflessness, and so I would never expect you to even try.
But what I do know is that if you begin to consider your actions and incentives more closely, you will no doubt begin to make little changes that favor selflessness. And these acts will result in tiny changes in the world for the better.
You and I can both do better. And we must. Because momentum swings both ways. We simply must be more aware of our place in the world and the actions we bring to it.
So I challenge you to think more about your actions. Every day. In every moment. Only then will the world begin to change for the better. Because it’s true that change starts with you. And me.
We can do this. One moment at a time.