The argument of the selfless is the idea of imposing morality, encouraging belief instead of thought thus insuring certain notions to stay in play in a society/tribe/family. Some of this imposing need is in the form of tyranny (I’ll talk about tyranny/power in another post) but more often than not it comes at us on the road of good intentions. These notions are good, were “always” thought to be so and the need to question therefor becomes moot. It is my contention that if one is going to commit themselves to ideals then it is best to do so with the full weight of one’s intellect, compassion and consciousness. Nothing less.
Of course the qualifier to this is that it can only be acted upon when a person has a formed self; when the development has gone past the notions of simple pleasure seeking and instant gratification (helloooooo Id). This is not to negate the notions of finding pleasure in self inquisition or philosophical discussions, but rather these things would be hollow if we were only allowing ourselves to venture into the realms of comfort to find answers. Some individual’s doctrines would encourage the simple acceptance of “just being” and, while I can not negate the truth of the statement, is it truly complete? I am, who I am all right, but if I don’t know what I think or why then what kind of existence is this? Does this kind of existence encourage conscious action or merely reflexive responses born of either indoctrination or the requirements of an unrestrained Id?
The notion of selfishness in this context is nothing more or less than a fight for the ego, the assertion of it and the encouragement of healthy development of it. When society evaluates those who are “selfish” people often interpret this as inappropriate greed [will do a post on that one too… maybe…] and that those who do goodness in our society are selfless. The word itself is fraught with problems in that the people who do good can only do so by the rule of not considering themselves; that these actions are not done in honor of one’s ideals and ethics, but either contrary to or not in consideration of them or simply at the behest of someone else’s morality and imposing self.
In the context of the healthy ego a selfish person could be that person who volunteers at a soup kitchen, makes clothes for orphaned children or even just bakes for library fund raisers. That a person who did all these things did so with the full weight of their consciences upon them, actively pursued aiding in causes of value to themselves, is not a reason for disdain or claims of martyrdom but celebration. To act on behalf of one’s self is not easy. It requires understanding and acceptance of consequences, a commitment to certain philosophies and/or organizations. When a person acts in such a way it is selfish. They’re doing it, not because they want to be selfless, but because they want to give a gift of themselves to themselves through their own notions of right action.
I close this particular series with a quote from Ayn Rand:
“Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice–which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction–which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.”
** There are more philosophical posts coming as I realized, almost bemusedly, that every aspect of the self and discussions there of necessitate still more ideals to be acknowledged.
Coming on Friday: My review of Graceling!