Have We Passed the Point of No Return: Will Selfishness Be Societies Ultimate Downfall?

Have We Passed the Point of No Return: Will Selfishness Be Societies Ultimate Downfall?

I am by nature a selfish person; Evelina however, is not.  Of the many things I have learned about myself since having met her, this character trait is the toughest of which to accept.   She thinks of me first and herself second and until I met her I had never cared for someone enough to think of anyone but myself.


Plus bad apples caused me to become a little cynical and jaded.  My world-view had become survival of the fittest, after all, no one will take care of me like me. Selfishness is a powerful characteristic to overcome and it is the one at the root of most of societal problems.

I see how humans treat each other and I wonder how our species has not been selected out by a massive virus or why a God would have mercy on us when we are slow with mercy and quick with the sword. Then the angel on my other shoulder reminds me of the good that humans are capable of doing and that all hope is not lost.  I struggle with these dual ideologies, each one fighting for supremacy in my mind.  On the one hand I truly want to believe in the goodness of humankind, but then our actions want to destroy that belief.

We live in a world full of bad people capable of horrific acts. And I think we all realize the world is going to pot, but want to believe in the better qualities of humanity. We must lock our doors at night, fear going to the ATM, carry concealed weapons, password protect our identities. Let’s face it…the world seems to have become a bad place. Corporations are pumping our foods full of pesticides and chemicals. Politicians are robbing the citizens blind. Criminals are more vicious than ever. Husbands and wives have little respect for “till death do us part.” Lying is acceptable. Finding an employee with a solid work ethic and trustable character is more difficult of a task than it should be.  Most citizens only have respect for the laws they think are important. Ethics, morality and character have all been rationalized beyond recognition.

What happened? When did we become so “me first” focused?

image credit: elleseconomy.com
I believe what has happened is a natural, self-preservation reaction. Information comes at us at all times from all avenues. We are inundated with news about bombings, stabbings, robberies, murders, scam artists, identity thefts, home invasions, infidelity, rapists, child molesters, dishonesty, etc. And over time we become conditioned to focus on keeping ourselves and our families safe. The negative information overload has forced us to believe everyone is out to harm and deceive and destroy, therefore we must avoid other humans in order to remain safe and protected. We have been conditioned by the continuous onslaught of negative news to believe the world is more violent now than ever. The truth is actually the opposite according to crime statistics!

Since the 1990’s crime has actually decreased. But because we hear about most crimes committed in most cities, the perception is the opposite. And thus the natural instinct of self-preservation kicks in and human beings focus inward versus outward. We have become selfish as a way to perpetuate the species; to survive. It is innate in all animals to live/survive by any means. And as species adapt or go extinct, our species is adapting to a perception of danger. It matters not that crime is down it only matters to us that we perceive the world to be full of creeps and weirdos that must be kept away from us and our children!

But how do we overcome this? How do we learn to lend a hand? How do we learn to trust? I’m not sure of the answer. Maybe it starts with one single individual deciding to take action and help another? Maybe we must start setting a new example for our kids? Whatever the answer, I pray we find it soon. Society is like a large corporation. It takes large companies months or years to make change, as they have a large turning radius. I suspect it will take generations to change our society from selfish to more selfless. Maybe I am being an idealist in believing we can change. Or maybe I just can’t stomach the thought of a selfish world. Regardless, I know the only way to bring about a mindset of thinking of others is to start with self examination, we must inventory our own lives and then take action to help. I am not sure that it will happen, but I am hopeful.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”-Mahatma Gandhi



57 thoughts on “Have We Passed the Point of No Return: Will Selfishness Be Societies Ultimate Downfall?

  1. no, I think we will be fine 🙂 I spend a lot of time creating gifts for people I love and care about. They mean a lot to me, and the gifts mean even more to them. sharing is caring, and I feel things get better every day! 🙂

  2. Really interesting post. I had a similar experience of a young man engaging me in conversation at the ATM, I felt slightly concerned, especially when he appeared in the shop where I was and offered to carry my shopping back to my car. I politely declined and said goodbye. I then felt really shitty driving home that I had automatically thought he was out to mug me – I still feel bad that this young man offered a good turn that I was immediately suspicious of – how awful is that?

    1. Not awful at all. We can believe that there are sincere folks out there, willing to help. But we have to trust our instincts…I’d have done the same. I’d never engage in a conversation at the ATM, and would have been suspicious of the motives. (Sorry to jump in…but I saw this as I posted my comment. ☺)

    2. Honestly, if the same thing had happened to my wife I would have wanted her to act in the same manner. First, you never talk to people at the ATM, creepy and suspicious. Then, the ATM conversation is made even more suspicious by the follow-up “carry your bags to the car.” You could’ve ended up stuffed in a trunk! We must differentiate between someone doing good and someone being suspicious. It is hard but in this instance, I believe you did the right thing.

      1. Thanks for that, really x I am of a very trusting nature usually but this time I did feel uncomfortable. I told Jeff when I got home and he said most men wouldn`t really offer to carry someone`s shopping, unless it was maybe an elderly lady or someone clearly in difficulties. Perhaps I looked particularly rough and old that day ……. 🙂

  3. We do live in a different, more aware world, and are right to pay attention. I vacillate between trust and caution…all the time. While the focus is always on the evils of our time, I believe and have seen so many good things that I am also hopeful. Very thoughtful post, Danny. ☺

    1. It was something that comes to my head often. I think the failure is when we isolate ourselves on the side of caution and never help or allow others to help. Dealing with strangers these days is tough because we read about so much crime. But as I said, crime is actually way down in the U.S. statistically.

  4. You said it yourself with Mr. Gandhi’s words:
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”-Mahatma Gandhi

    That doesn’t mean not to be careful and watching your safety or allow people to take advantage of you, does it.

  5. Yes, very good points. I think much of the problem stems from advertising and greedy corporations – the big corporations with their feet in the trough, and also the advertising that persistently says ‘you need this and that. You deserve it now. You have a right to it.’

    1. There is a system designed in our world to herd us and control us through advertising. And it is tough for some to break free from the herd mentality. I have read some “conspiracy” websites that talk about this sort of information inundation and the power it has over the mentality of the herd; keep them scared and you can control them by playing on fears.

  6. My dad used to stop and talk to ANYONE, ANYWHERE. .. something that drove my mom NUTS . …but I realize I do it now too . My ten year old summed it up best when he said Mommy, you make friends everywhere we go! Lol selfishness I believe fades when you become a parent . ..more so for moms cuz we live for another human in a different way than dads do

    1. That is a good point. My hopes are that those that read what I encourage, will adopt a better attitude toward those that are less fortunate or in need. As a whole, too many people ignore the homeless and needy people.

  7. Inspiring post! And you made some great points! Who would have thought the there is a decrease in crime! With all you hear in the media you would think that it’s fall worse!

    1. Yes you are right! I studied crime statistics reported nationally by the FBI and crime is down considerably and is continuing to decrease since the 1980s! But we hear so much of it from so many sources that it creates a false impression.

  8. I am the first to admit that I have trust issues. I question almost everyones motives. There are fewer than 5 people on the planet that I trust. So if someone tries to help me I will most likely not let you. But if you were cold I would give you my coat, hungry, I will give you something to eat. I would die to protect you. I think that is the point of living isn’t it. Helping people that need it. Did that make any sense at all?

  9. I’ve had the opposite problem my whole life in that I think of others before myself. That puts me in a bad spot, too. I can’t help but feel that so much today’s ills have been compounded by the 1980s “me, myself and I” movement, combined with the “advancement” in gaming – so much of which are violent – and social media. Children aren’t encouraged to build an imagination and independent thought or taught good morals.

  10. Don’t get me going on the ‘me first’ attitude.
    But I have to share one small example. Many years ago I helped set up the after-school care program at my daughters’ primary school. We hired fantastic staff who did all the work, but parents voluntarily ran most of the admin. To this day I take cardboard, buttons, crafty stuff and such for the kids to use on ‘construction day’. Friends and neighbours collect stuff too and I take it to the centre once a month. They are so grateful.
    I asked why they didn’t post a request in the school newsletter for parents to bring stuff too. Heck they’re catering for about 100 kids. Guess what? They do post in the newsletter and no one ever responds!!!!!
    Good grief, these are their kids—my kids are in their 30s. And being busy is no excuse. My kids were in after-school care because we both worked full-time jobs.

    1. People these days deal with a lot of distractions. Time is not managed well and people claim to be “busy.” Meanwhile the average American watches 5 hours of television each day. Go figure.

  11. Wow, another wonderful post! Such a good topic. That’s why I love this blog, always relevant. I agree with many of your ideas, just in one respect I see things a bit differently.
    Throughout history humans have held together in the toughest times. Familes, then tribes, then nations formed to keep away a common enemy. So actually, history and psych studies show us that the more danger, the more selflessness (people empathisize and protect those like them, because it’s easier to stay alive in a herd). So my reading backlist leads me in the complete opposite direction on the subject of selfishness having developed due to perceived danger; it leads me to think it developed for another reason.
    And that’s where the opinion based on reading ends. Now I have an opinion based on my personal philosophies, probably no worthier than any other uninformed person’s. But I think selfishness actually comes from a society that papers too much. We are supported in thinking of “me”, what “I” truly want in life, what “I” truly love, if I really want to do this or that, can it be that I have neurosis, could it be that I need a therapist, do I want a man with muscles or brains, a woman with implants or real breasts, oh, but society tells me I’m so great I “DESERVE” everything so I can have it all, etc, etc, etc. So I think we’re mostly just too pampered and we have it too good, actually.
    Super interesting post! Please, keep them up, your blog is gold, I love your articles!

    1. You bring up a great point. Your thoughts also lead me to thinking about the impact of advertising also feeding into that neurosis. You deserve the house, the car, the family, the great husband/wife. It is all focused on self and their is a inundation of advertising in our world. Every where you look we are being brainwashed in a sense to want want want….me, me, me!

  12. Maybe by becoming ridiculously self-centered, we can more easily recognize the need for change. At least I’d like to think this shortcoming can end up serving a purpose. We can make a difference one person at a time. And, asking ourselves how is proof we would aspire to be more for each other. Thank you- Debra

  13. Hi Danny,
    I am testing to see if I can comment on other people’s sites at WP.com. Did you say you found my comments in your Spam folder on Friday when I wrote you and Natalie on your site?

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