Selfishness and Compassion
According to Oxford Dictionary, Selfishness is the quality of being Selfish. As per the same dictionary, a selfish person is concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. Searching the same for Compassion shows is explained as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. These do seem to be exact opposite. I always felt so too. But somewhere inside me there was this thought that the two can co-exist.
So can two opposite things exist together? They can. But then I wondered about how things in life seem circular or cyclic. If there are 2 things on 2 ends of a straight line and then you bend that line in a circle, they become the same thing. And when 2 ends meet, they become the whole. A circle represents the complete.
Just saying that straight lines, circle, whole theory is of course one part. But how do I tell myself to believe that being selfish can encompass compassion too. I have been wondering on whether I am selfish and yet be compassionate towards things. I felt that maybe I have both the characteristics but then I somehow cannot believe in it.
So here’s what I thought. Lets say I want my personal benefit, I want my personal pleasure. The only thing that can provide me that pleasure and benefit is the world around me, the people around me. So if they go away, if the world is destroyed or the people are angry at me, it does not work out to my benefit. So if I expand my world view to everything and everyone around me, if I try to understand how things tick, if I try to gain as much information as I can, then I can make the decisions that are the wisest for myself.
It does not conflict with the fact that I would hide my feelings or bow down in front of others for my benefit. Naturally if I believe I am correct I would stand up and fight if needed. But when I say that I would try not to make people angry, I mean by understanding what upsets them and trying to avoid that situation naturally without causing any harm to anyone.
Since my actions go back into the environment and the environment is a cause into my actions, it is a circle. Hence I need to understand the impact of my actions and take the best possible route that would maximize my pleasure. In this process, I naturally want to be good to nice people and avoid the not-so-nice people. I want to try to buy a eco-car if I can afford one which would give me benefit of increased mobility while preserving this world more than a conventional fuel car.
And sometimes to maintain this balance of life, you have to be wrong. Wrong in the eyes of others. You need to do things that others would dislike or hate you for but yet are completely necessary from your point of view. Sometimes you need to be rude to a very nice person to prevent that person from liking you any further and have a heartbreak. Sometimes you need to cut the rope that would kill 2 people but save even one because if you don’t cut the rope, no one lives on.
So I feel that if I can feel compassion to the world around me, that I can be more aware of the impact of each of my actions, I can be truly selfish. Which of course is what I want to achieve.