…Other than selflessness
Most of you don’t know me. If you did, you’d think I was a cynical bastard. Unless of course you thought I was a naïve little child who will never grow up because I refuse to believe the world is condemned. This disparity is all about selfishness.
I love Ayn Rand’s writing and philosophy. I have found a meaning in her words that extends far beyond the tripe that people normally espouse as her philosophy. However for years, I have had to scale back my vocal appreciation of her works(which is why I mention her so much here on my blog). I’ve been explaining to people that there is one catastrophic flaw in all her philosophy. It has been painful for me to work through this.
Selfishness, as defined in several dictionaries includes a lack of concern for others. Heck, that is just what the word means. Just as selflessness is a lack of concern for one’s self. It has been a great pain to me that I cannot support selfishness as defined in the dictionary and that it is the word at the core of her philosophy.
Today, as I was exploring the meaning of the word cynical, I realized that I am not cynical, because I am not selfish enough to fall into the definition. The fact that I’ve understood Rand’s philosophy and the value of the characters she invented made me struggle with the fact that I wasn’t selfish enough. My mother and her angelic concern for others has shaped me into a man who loves others and is moderately concerned with the wellbeing of strangers and a vicious guardian of my friends. I am proud of that.
However, I am as far from altruistic as you can be. I believe in helping people because it helps me. I want to bake carrot cake and donate it to homeless shelters and food banks around the holidays, because I want to share a joy I’ve been given with others who are less fortunate. I want to do this to segue into more active involvement because it would be truly painful for me to just serve food in one of those places. My heart reaches out with invisible fingers and cares for people so it would take a lot out of me. I don’t do it because I’m scared. So now I am learning to make sheet cakes and see how I can get involved without so much of the human connection.
And although it sounds so altruistic, I want to be more involved because I want to live in a better world. I want to live in a world where people don’t starve. I don’t want to do it because I think they deserve it. I don’t want to do it because I want to ease the suffering of others. I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. That is not altruism. That is not selfless.
It’s also not selfish.
Today I realized that the word Ayn Rand meant to use was selfness.
I believe in the sanctity of the self. The self is what I hold as sacred. The self is what I never want to lose. I am concerned with other selves because they affect my self. I am concerned with the world because that is where my self lives. I believe your self is as sacred as my self, but not as valuable to me as my self. I want you to be true to your self and be your true self around me. I want to change you, but only as seeing a god or a wretch changes you. I want to be an inspiration or a motivation. I want to have an affect on others because it validates my self.
So as funny or as lame as you find the title and subheading of this post, please understand that I am in actuality finally able to reconcile the two conflicting images I see in the mirror. My angel and my demon have merged into a single consciousness called a conscience. I now have the word to describe the way I see the world.
Selfishness and Selflessness are both terrible things that ought to be despised.
Selfness is the goal. Selfness is what Ayn Rand meant. Selfness is what she wrote novels to explain.
Some dictionaries list selfishness as an archaic synonym, but if you read the definitions from multiple dictionaries, you get a much better picture of what the meaning is.
And I am once again left in awe that a book written 57 years ago, that I read 15 years ago can be boiled down to the meaning behind the title of this blog. I guess it is time to explore my title some more, but first, “MORE WINE!”