“Dad, is it bad to be selfish?”Posted: April 30, 2013 | |
How do you define “selfish”?
I don’t know, maybe someone who is interested in himself?
Okay. Are you interested in yourself?
So you are selfish.
And I think it is great that you are interested in yourself because that is what life requires if you want to live. Every organism is selfish by sustaining its OWN life and pursuing its own values.
But being selfish seems to be bad. People don’t mean good things when they call you “selfish”.
People are wrong. They have this false assumption that being selfish necessarily means hurting others. But if you are a rational person who really cares about his long term well-being, you know that hurting others is not being selfish, it is just being stupid. Hurting other people will eventually hurt your life, and that is the opposite of being selfish.
But if everyone will take care of themselves only, life will be miserable.
Is life here in the United States so miserable?
So how did you come to the conclusion that if we all behave selfishly, life will be miserable?
We ARE selfish and we are pursuing our OWN goals. The beauty of human life is that by acting selfishly in a free society, we actually produce goods for other people by trading with them. It is a win-win for everyone.
I don’t see how. If you win someone else loses.
That’s the most common mistake people make. Life doesn’t work this way in a social context.
Let me give you an example: the guy in the our local bakery that you like so much – why is he making those great breads and cookies?
For his customers? For me?
No. He makes them for himself. He wakes up very early every morning to bake in order to provide for his family. He makes bread for himself so he could sell it for money and only as a byproduct you get to eat his delicious cookies.
So he doesn’t really care about me?
I know he likes you very much, but he doesn’t have to like every customer. He bakes because he needs our money. If you really think he is making them for you, try asking him day after day to give you cookies for free. What do you think will happen?
He won’t give them to me.
And he shouldn’t, because then he will be sacrificing cookies to feed you instead of taking care of his own child. And that is bad and irrational. That will be acting selflessly, which many people unfortunately regard as a virtue.
So donating and giving to charity is a bad thing?
Not at all. Remember the definition of being “selfish” – doing what is rationally good for YOU.
So if you earned money honestly, you have the right to spend it however you want. If you have enough to also give to other people who are sick or poor, it is your own choice, but you don’t have ANY moral duty to do so and it doesn’t make you a bad person if you don’t. I believe that every person has the ultimate responsibility for his or her own life. Otherwise, you will be a slave to other people’s needs.
I know it is a little complicated, but do you understand what I mean?
I think so. But why can’t we live together and share what we all have?
Good question. I actually lived in a place where people shared everything they had, and let me tell you, it was bad.
Because of the nature of living things. Nature made us pursue our OWN goals like feeding ourselves, finding shelter, breeding and in the case of human beings, it also made us use our mind and our reason in order to produce what we need to survive.
When human beings are left alone to take care of themselves, the result is wealth, trade and prosperity. A free man can use his mind to produce what he knows to produce and trade with others – it is called the division of labor. This why the baker makes bread and I make software.
In society there are always people who use force instead of reason, like thieves or crooks, but the police takes care of them. Most people are moral, decent and productive.
But when you tell people that they need to live their lives for someone or something ELSE, like the community, the state or the race, you are asking them to act not according to their nature, and this is where things go wrong.
History has shown us that replacing SELFISHNESS with SELFLESSNESS results in poverty, misery, corruption and murder. Your life in those kind of societies is not worth much, because you are a tool to serve other purposes other than your own life.
People will try to wrap this “selflessness” idea with nice names like brotherhood, equality, compassion, humanism, justice, greater good – but those are just covers to a very evil idea called ALTRUISM.
What is “Altruism” Dad?
It means “Otherism”. Living your life to serve anything OTHER than yourself. Live for your brother, for the state, for the earth, for the poor, for the polar bears – anything but you.
But why do they do that?
If they convince you that you have a MORAL DUTY to serve someone or something else other than you, then they can control your life, take your money and your property and call it “the right and moral thing to do”.
The sad truth is that the only people who win in those societies are the ones collecting the money and ruling the people. Look at countries like Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Cambodia and other countries where “Otherism” was the goal in life. life was miserable in all those societies, and people fled by risking their lives to the United States because it offered one very important thing – freedom. Freedom to live your OWN life and be selfish.
In a truly free society you cannot control or rule people because they are free to think, to choose and to keep their own property – you have no way to force them. But sadly, when people buy into the “Otherism as the moral good” idea, you suddenly see them willing to give their money away by taxes and starting to sacrifice their own values for other collective values.
Dad, people got it all wrong. Teachers in my school keep talking about putting other people’s needs before your own. I now understand how evil that is.
I don’t think they understand the contradiction between freedom and altruism, and the inevitable consequences of living up to that idea. Maybe you can change their minds?
I am not sure I can.
Thomas Jefferson once did. But that is a story for another day. It is getting late.
Am I free to read before I go to sleep?
Yes, this is still a free country. Good night my dearest.