Blog post: Being Selfless in the Age of Selfishness
“Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without himself.” – Henry Ward Beecher
It seems that our society is filled with more greed than ever, the politics of the day seem to be all about selfishness. We see it all around us and it seems worse than ever. Our government appears to be focused on helping those who need need it the least and lining the pockets of supporters, politicians and the companies who support them.
This apparent greed pushes us to lash out against policies that seem unfair. We see the ever rising corporate profits and executive salaries as pure greed, we argue against the politicians who seem to be spending aimlessly on things that only benefit a few, we protest selfish motives and cry out against the injustices of poverty and hunger.
With little or no effort, we recognize the ugly effects of greed and selfishness on our society, culture, and in our nation. The greed of others makes this world a less pleasurable place to live for all of us. We see the wealthy get wealthier as the poor get poorer.
The media is obsessed with the rich and famous and our commercialized society puts pressure on us all to “need” the latest and greatest phone, television, car or whatever. We thumb our noses at the excesses of others and easily mock those who flaunt their greed.
All the while, our personal greed rarely goes challenged. It’s easy to recognize the negative effects of corporate selfishness. But identifying our own selfish motivation is more difficult to accomplish. It is, after all, far more painful to discover and admit that perhaps we are selfish.
As a result, we rarely recognize how our own selfishness and desires keep us from experiencing real joy, hope, gratitude, generosity, and love. Our quest for more and our attachments to material things hinder our ability to experience true contentment. Many of the decisions we make daily are based on money, sometimes at the expense of happiness. We tend to spend much of our time focused on wanting more instead of on appreciating what we have.
It is healthy and wise to recognize the greed of our society. We need voices speaking out against it… loudly. And history will continue to recognize and praise the heroes who took a stand against it. May each of us be bold as we champion society’s selfless pursuits.
But as we do, don’t forget to pay attention to your own heart. As we strive to build a world filled with generosity and charity, we should never neglect the pursuit of removing selfishness from our own affections. As we move through the holidays and in to the New Year, take some time to reflect on and consider not only your own interests, but think about the interest and well being of others.
In our meditative practice of self-reflection, we should routinely place ourselves in the plight of others and see our lives from a different perspective. Then we may discover a bit more motivation to share and help others to meet their own basic needs. We may find that we can put as much energy into helping others as we do into helping ourselves. We can move from the selfishness of the day and start to demonstrate what it means to live a life of selflessness.
The antidote for selfishness is you. And the battle must begin in OUR heart.