Sunday, September 18, 2011

Human nature

Hurricane Irene hit D.C. on the last Saturday in August which was almost three weeks ago now.  The hurricane itself did not hit D.C. very hard and our house only experienced strong wind and rain.  There was so much media buzz about the storm that all of D.C. went out to stock up on groceries, water, batteries, etc. on Friday before the actual storm touched down.  I chose to visit the Target down the street for my stocking up.  I expected it to be crowded, but it was an absolute zoo.   All the shoppers were super rushed as if the apocalypse was approaching!  Everyone seemed to have a get-in-my-way-and-I-will-punch-you-in-the-face look.  The check-out line wrapped around the store and no one was in a good mood.  No "excuse me's", no small talk, nothing.  This whole shopping experience reminded me that in the end, people are only on the look out for themselves.  And, their families.  Yes, this is the way it should be but I was vaguely disgusted by people being almost animalistic in grabbing the last of the water cases, fruit, etc.  I know you have to be selfish to survive in this crazy, unpredictable world but I guess I'm still struggling with this fact.

It fascinates me to no end that everything that we as human beings do, we do for ourselves.  Even altruistic things are done out of our own selfishness.  I like helping others because it makes me feel good.  I wanted to help the old woman with her groceries because it made me feel good about myself.  Selfishness can have positive aspects to it, I suppose.  I know that when I don't feel 100 percent good about myself, I don't have the same energy to give to others.  I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."  I think that statement holds true.  I feel guilty sometimes because I focus so much energy on just myself.  I especially felt this way during my long job search as it was all I did during the day and all I could talk about with others.  My poor parents heard more than their fair share of my gripes and frustrations with the job search process.  I felt bad about my hyper intense self-centered outlook but then again, if I didn't find a job for myself, who else would do it for me?

Life is about being selfish because if you don't take care of yourself than no one else will.  I think it's important to accept the fact that the only reason people do things in life is out of selfishness.  Selfishness doesn't even have to be coded as a strictly positive or negative quality.  Accepting this fact helps me to better understand why people do things and why they behave in certain ways.  There is another great quote I can recall which says that nothing others think or say about you is because of you, but rather a reflection of their own reality.  Therefore, there is no reason to take things that others do to you personally, because everyone acts based on their own selfish reality.  Why do people put others down?  For the same reason, of course.  They put others down so that they can feel good about themselves.  As my Dad likes to say,  it really is all about them. 

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