Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two Kinds of Selfishness

I know I've touted selfishness as a good thing, a force that makes the world go round, but there are really two types, and only one of them is like that.

The selfishness of wanting to make yourself into a better person, of wanting to be more successful, of wanting to make the world a better place for yourself, your family, and your community is a good thing. Those kinds of selfishness all lead, not just to self-betterment, but also to the betterment of the world around you. You can't put yourself out as a good person if you don't live like a good person, do good things for the less fortunate around you (not necessarily financial in nature). Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of fixing up a part of a neighbor's home that makes the value of the neighborhood increase, and thusly your own wealth.

Then there's the selfishness of jealousy. Jealousy is refusing to share something of good you've found in the world, because you think it would lessen its worth if others has access to it. Especially when it comes to people, that sort of behavior only cheapens your relationship with them (not relationship as in dating or such, but as in the way you relate to them).

Friends can be affectionate without flirting, flirtatious without being romantic. Friends can be as close as siblings or closer still, and still have nothing between them but friendship. Trying to break that apart for your own selfishness is the worst kind of selfishness. It lowers the value of all those involved, including the innocent third party.

And I don't stand idly by and let my friends who are innocent of a situation get hurt. I may joke with my coworkers about threatening to separate them when their teasing starts getting out of hand, but it's not all a joke. I will do what is necessary.

Sometimes doing nothing is what is necessary, but one of the hardest things to do is let things follow their course. It's like taking charge of a group of people and then telling them all to stand down for a gut feeling.

But doing nothing is still something. It's still a choice, and if anything, I won't back down from a difficult choice.