Be selfish for you can be generous

No man will work for your interest unless they are his

David Seabury

The quote above tells how the entire world works. However, America has executed this truth in a unique way. Which its result caused an abundance of wealth, leadership and security.


Being selfish has always been seen as a negative thing.

In the East, it’s every man for his own. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours… maybe.

Unless you are someone who appears to have wealth, a tourist (or if you’re dealing with a seriously religious person)- the world is not a fan of generosity. They must think of themselves and then close relatives in order to survive.

The West, particularly America, on the other hand, has a different motto which separates itself from the rest of the world.

Whether in a large scale such as America getting involved in foreign wars: a selfish motive unless it’s a direct attack or to prevent one, for the citizens of the United States.

How about on a smaller scale such as the individual: one investing on his own needs before doing favors for others- also may seem selfish.

The way America has handled foreign policy to a personal citizen’s choice, has overall been a step to the right direction.


America conducts itself differently

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means to preserving peace

George Washington Jan. 8th 1790 First annual message to congress

The 5 Star general military expert and America’s first president was aware that if potential enemies know that America is ready for war, with weapons and training, then enemies will not even flirt with the idea to commit aggression against the United States.

This thinking from our nation’s beloved first president still holds truth today. Washington is not only talking about a wellformed army (which many countries already have) but its citizens also to be armed and disciplined.

Another popular idea of many countries is foreign involvement. Mostly for real estate, power and control reasons. America is different from this policy as well. Washington tells America to avoid being dragged into overseas conflict:

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world…. are essentially foreign to our concerns…. America’s detached and distant situation… [should be an easier avoidant into warfare.]

George Washington

Washington made it clear if a nation which “indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave’– it gets distracted and suspends its only duty of pursuing its own true interest.

Two easy ways the American can avoid meddling into foreign affairs: our values are different. Our geographical location, separated from the world by two large oceans also represents something deeper. It brings us back to our first point of having different ideas of a nation.

Although the wisdom of Washington cannot be stressed more, Americans have recently abandoned their leader’s advice and joined the activities of the world. After WW2, the NATO agreement offered very little for the American but gave much American money and man power for Europe.

America is able to do good while being the first to respond to tragedies; both domestically and internationally because America focused on itself for many years. America also set the bar high for human achievement and became a world influence by setting an upright example in practice that the world wishes to mimic.


Should the individual be selfish to eventually become generous?

Well, how else can one offer something if he doesn’t have the means to offer?

Just because someone is willing to do something doesn’t mean much if he isn’t ready to provide it.

Similar to Washington’s advice to prepare for warfare- even if you’re not going to war, one must be ready to back up the talk to avoid the fight. Now, how can he prepare himself if he has no weapons? No training? No right to bare arms?

At an early stage of the nation or individual, these values must be taught. It is also better to learn skills and have training young in order to make life much more easier for the long run.

If your noble goal is to serve your community (and profit comes second or none)- God bless you for your rare motive! This too was the pilgrims’ desire: to create God’s kingdom on earth. Gold came second or not even important. However, the pilgrims still had to offer something uniquely different from the world. Their knowledge of scriptures and carrying it out daily, took a massive commitment to lifetime training and dedication.

If the goal was to, for example, teach reading for people can read the Bible, (many people all over the world were illiterate)- then first the teacher needed to know how to read for himself. At one point in his life, this teacher spent hours learning how to read, and then to understand the Bible. Only after this is he able to teach others.

People will listen to those who understand and practices his work- not to someone who speaks like a blabbering pagan.

Suppose your main goal is profit. Honestly, profit is the best goal. While I agree with the pilgrims’ religious teachings, I would certainly disagree with the Marxist teachings. Had a Marxist came off the Mayflower, free or pay- I am not interested in a Marxist utopian idea. You might not be interested in the Bible. But money is the proof of hard work and free exchange for all ideas. This is where a Marxist and religious person can shake hands in a transaction.

In order to do so, one party must have previously invested his time to create and develop his service or product. It might have seemed selfish when he started his mission, but the community eventually benefited through his sacrifice of immediate pleasure for a long term goal of uncertain wealth.

On the flip side, the consumer must have earned his wealth elsewhere in order to purchase the innovator’s product. The consumer himself is an investor: both in the product and how he obtains his wealth to even make this transaction.

Another motivation is love.

Have you seen anyone more selfish than a 15-year-old boy? Everything is certainly about him. But introduce a beautiful girl, now the young boy has the interest to suddenly become a highly skilled electrician to purchase this girl the best flowers he can.

No matter for the greater good, profit or love- one must develop himself in order to be generous. This requires disciple, structure, sacrifice, practice, training and even isolation in order to achieve greatness.


The time when the act of selfishness must be suspended

Is there a time or situation when being selfish must be avoided?

Yes.

In relationships: Marriage. As individuals with parents. As parents with children. There is no room for your selfish ways at this moment.

One thing I’ve notice reading Ayn Rand books is that there are no children in them. Also translating to, no future.

There must be a future. A purpose in order to have a meaningful life.

When you’re in a relationship, its a two way street. You might not want to visit grandma and watch watch her play crossword puzzles with an old neighbor named Sally. But as her grandchild, you know you’re obligated to do so every Sunday afternoon.

Although it’s only one day of the week she sees you, you’re the reason why she gets out of bed each day. She looks forward to your Sunday visits starting when you leave Sunday evening. Even if they are spent in silence, your presence alone shows you care.

After you leave your weekly visit, you have a sense of worth. You not only committed to family but you begin to think: I won’t be alone either when I’m her age.

This works the opposite: be generous (with your time, something that requires zero training). You’ll experience by doing so, you’re actually gaining self-control. Honoring your word. Patience. Human interaction. So much more virtues that you can take with you into the workforce and in romace.

You’ll eventually have the same treatment in return. Even if there is nothing to gain other than your smile. Remember, like money, people are attracted to good energy. Something you have unknowligly developed through your Sunday visits with grandma.

The same works with gift giving. This has been practiced in every culture for thousands of years.

You’re giving not because the Bible says so, your parents or even society told you too. You’re giving because you want too. Again, invest in yourself for you can experience this joy at anytime.

What is the hidden exchange with gift giving?

First, the person you’re giving too must accept your gift. Their smile, joy, and suspense are worth the giving. This brings a sensation to you of accomplishment.

You were not only thanked, but for a moment you were seen. Heard. Even within love, there is a trade-off.

The trade off is not material, but more of a spiritual one.

This is one, which is love, is the best deal made.

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