Another controversial thought: EVERYTHING is selfish, even when it helps.
People who pursue material wealth or power do so to validate their identity, effort, or status. We’ve all agreed this looks (& is) selfish.
But we rarely question why givers give. They’re also being selfish. Whether they donate at church, help in a disaster, or tweet about social programs, they’re feeding a need – to help, to be righteous, to appear righteous. That $1 for the beggar on the subway, pair of Toms shoes, or retweet might not help the problem, but offers a quick surge of validation. Like a Hermes, helping is an identity, the basis of one’s inner self. That is SELFish, even when others benefit.
Sometimes, both impulses live inside the same person. Others, like Bill Gates, transition from one identity to the other.
And despite the endless battles between the selfish & (seemingly) selfless, both desperately need each other. Without the drive of the former to create or finance innovation, the latter would have little to redistribute – or enjoy.
The sooner we realize that love thyself and love thy neighbor are forever intertwined, the sooner we can go back to doing both.