Monday, February 23, 2009


For about the last month I’ve been troubled by this issue. It’s been popping its head into just about every aspect of life and I’ve been trying to figure out a pretty way to describe it for a blog post. Nothing profound has hit me just yet but I really feel a need to get this off of my chest.

I’m not sure what caused me to start thinking about this but I’ve really taken notice of how many of the problems that we face every single day are nothing more than just selfishness.

Last week I was driving somewhere with the family and a guy in a BMW was tailgating and zipping back and forth from lane to lane without signaling. His driving was really distracting. He would cut in front of people with only inches to spare and it forced everybody around him to have to be in high alert so that there wasn’t an accident. After about three miles of watching this guy we pulled up to a light and he was only three cars ahead of us. His selfish, reckless behavior had profited him maybe 50 feet of road at the expense of annoying everybody else around him.

This is just one simple example of how selfishness makes our lives more difficult but it caused me to start thinking of the hundreds of other issues that we must contend with daily we can blame completely on somebody’s selfishness.

How many divorces could have been avoided if either party had thought about the other more than they did themselves? Sadly in most situations selfishness reigns and the spouse’s feelings and needs are a distant second.

The current housing crisis is nothing more than thousands of people selfishly mortgaging a house that was far too much for them to afford.

Multi-level marketing is little more than just hoping that you get your payout before the house of cards fails. In the recruiting videos they focus on the few millionaires at the top of the pyramid and ignore the countless backs that the scheme is built upon.

We’re bailing out investment banks whose CEOs felt they were entitled to gold plated antique toilets and gold plated helicopters yet didn’t feel they had to return a viable product for their investors.

I’m very bothered by all the crap that’s marketed under false pretenses. I think in most cases the sellers of homeopathic, chiropractic and other alternative treatments know full well that what they are selling is just false hope and at best placebo. Yet it makes them richer so they continue. I know of one case where I’m sure the practitioner knows he’s a con artist, but continues to sell something that he personally does not believe is effective.

I personally believe that we are now fighting a war in Iraq that was more about establishing a legacy than it was about fighting terrorism. Had all personal ambitions and desire to clear a family name been shelved I wonder how differently the last several years have been. put selfishness aside, would things have been done differently? I think so.

On a much smaller scale I have a hard time even talking shop with some coworkers because they have such a desire to outdo the other person’s opinion that they frequently destroy any basis on fact just to be right. The focus quickly drifts away from finding the right answer to the question and is becomes all about saving face.

Years ago coworker and I once proposed a project to some folks at work. After vetting the idea for a couple days I realized that the idea had major flaws. I accepted this and went back to the drawing board. My co-sponsor however refused to admit defeat and even denied the existence of the flaws of our idea. His selfish desire to have his idea get accepted blinded him to the fact that if put into practice it would have adversely affected our customers. I wonder how many folks at much higher levels and with much more influence than my friend and I have forced their plan into company policy even knowing that it was inferior just based on their own selfish desire to have their plan enacted.

I don't have a plan to make the world more selfless. I've just found that by stepping back and analyzing my own motives perhaps I can lessen my selfish impacts.


  1. Very good point. I recently read a book call "A New Earth" and he commented on this same thing. He takes it a step further and says that when we let our Ego's take over is what causes most the problems in the world. Once you've submitted to the fact that your Ego isn't looking out for your best interest just it's own your life changes. I saw like in the gospel that if we can submit to the Lord's will than everything else will fall into place. Of course this isn't a one time thing but something that helps just to be aware of it.

  2. Interesting. Sounds like this book internalizes the concept even more. The ego may do things that are detremental to the whole. I'll have to read it.

  3. Selfishness is indeed the downfall of many - unfortunately most people would deny that they are selfish. Everyday we see examples of people feeling entitled to so many things - this is a form of selfishness. They seldom experience the blessing of putting others first.