Articles From the March 1994 Unification News
by Paul Carlson-San Leandro, CA
This article deals with that most annoying of human troubles, "selfish behavior." It covers attitudes from childish vanity to the deepest arrogance. Selfish behaviors range from the mildest "couch potatoes" to the vilest criminals. (See "High Crimes and Spies" for more on criminality.).Christians believe it is rooted in an underlying "sin of pride." The Bible and every accepted holy text emphasize the importance of unselfish behavior.
First, a brief overview. Some "selfish people" will touch nothing. Afraid of "chemicals and toxins," they are obsessed with "purifying" their bodies, through intensive nutrition, etc. While others fear illness, going to many doctors, taking many pills. Many "go for the burn" through intense exercise, even hurting themselves with steroid drugs or eating disorders. Some, especially celebrities, try costly fashions or cosmetic surgery. Making "external trouble," some will "hit" people with robberies, etc. Lastly, with "spiritual trouble" some will touch anything, as pimps or prostitutes.
Yet there is an opposite gamut of unselfish people. Some work to "clean up the environment" for the benefit of ALL people. Some teach sensible nutrition to the public, or become doctors, to heal people. Some teach fitness, and get those "couch potatoes" to exercise! There are "Abel type" celebrities who use their appeal to inspire, and to advocate good causes. Some people become police or emergency workers, to aid those in trouble. Finally, there are "real world" saints who will also "touch anything," doing what it takes to help those in misery. Like Schweitzer in Africa, or Mother Teresa in India. Or Rev. Moon in Hung Nam prison.
Rev. Moon has said that "intellectuals are responsible for most of the world's troubles." Stupid selfish people can, at best, be an unwelcome house guest- and at worst, they can ruin a handful of lives. But, smart selfish people can ruin many millions of lives. Such as the "Savings and Loan scandal" figures, who stole the life savings of thousands of hardworking people.
Some people try to uphold a sort of "good selfishness." Most budding students go through an "Ayn Rand phase." She rightly abhorred socialism and collectivism as the monsters they are. However, she also denied God, or any sort of "larger purpose." (She does have some rather damning -very relevant- things to say about "socialized medicine.")
Society honors those who are unselfish. Rev. Moon has said that "soldiers who sacrificed their lives in battle" are among those "highest in the spirit world"- and people honor their memory. From a "mayor's ribbon" to "world sainthood," people are recognized for their sincerely unselfish deeds.
Many thinkers believe that selfishness is "normal." From Darwin to Spencer, people are seen as ruthless and greedy, from their deepest roots. Then, as Hobbes said, "life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." And, too often, it is "
Selfishness and unselfishness form patterns of behavior in everyone's life. And these apply to many personal and social issues. Some specific "hot issues":
Many people try to "find happiness" through the use of alcohol, and/or illicit drugs. In doing so they destroy themselves, and often others around them as well. But others share their "thrills." Perhaps through an "Iron Man" triathlon, or sky diving. These challenges inspire and entertain people.
Many people seek "good looks." Women enlarge or shrink (quite normal) body parts, while men fuss over their naturally balding heads- often with expensive surgery. For vanity and personal advantage. But others wish to look good for a "public purpose." Leaders, spokesmen, actors, etc. are helped by a good appearance. And Godly leaders can be more successful in this way also!
Many people push "causes" for selfish reasons. To relieve their guilt at selfish gains. To win the quick (if temporary) approval of the public. Or to seek position and power for themselves. But others genuinely wish to help people. To teach, to assist, to spiritually save.
Many people engage in sexual activity for personal thrills, or to seek emotional solace. Not to mention for easy gains. Often without concern for the consequences. (Rev. Moon has had some harsh words for women who wish to enjoy sex, yet deny their ultimate role as mothers.) But many people honor God and themselves through sex within marriage. Shared joy; and Godly purposes can be fulfilled!
Speaking of "consequences," many women have abortions for selfish reasons. To avoid "crimping their style." And the men involved often encourage -even force- such abortions... However, (yes, this is controversial!), there are unselfish reasons to have an abortion. Some pregnancies result from criminal force, thus having a very terrible "spiritual foundation." Also, they can be for "self defense," to save the precious life of the mother.
There are countless reasons why people marry. Often, immature self- seeking reasons. From childish "clinging" to calculating "gold digging." (Hollywood provides an encyclopedia of these!) Yet many people marry for good reasons. With good heart and the approval of their elders. With common faith and purpose. Including God's own purposes.
There are many "spiritual seekers." They "trek" in the Himalayas, and the Amazon. Or walk on fiery hot coals. (Actually, that's quite easy to do.) Burdened with their own guilt and difficulties. There are also true visionaries, who think of other's pain first.
Similarly, there are seekers after "secular" knowledge. Do they want prestigious degrees, for their own honor? Or do they wish to teach others, and to advance the knowledge of humankind?
Of course, individuals go through many of these things, at various stages in their lives. Sometimes, these war within each mind constantly!
Many people pursue "thrills" at the expense of others. The Outline of the Principle (Level 5) refers to this as "evil joy." Fleeting, if sometimes intense sensations, which drain the heart and spirit as surely as "good joy" fills them. There have always been "whispered tales," and later, books and "comix" that are presented for the purpose of stimulating this evil joy. Also certain films, and most recently, user controlled video games, which intensify this "stimulation" even more. (The companies that produce these ought to be deeply ashamed.)
Can "organizations" be selfish? Todays' leftists stake their careers on the bugaboo of the "big corporations," those sources of "all that is evil in this world" " Yet, these consist of directors and shareholders, workers and customers, partners and competitors, and sometimes unions and consumer groups. In a "free market society" a truly selfish entity could not survive for long. (They need the protection of an intrusive government to do that!) Better, a balance is found that serves the needs of all parties.
What about entire nations? It has been said that "nations have no friends, only interests." Actually, in all history, the "free trading" nations have prospered. Isolated nations become poor, and perish. For both economic and spiritual reasons, generous nations do better. America rebuilt postwar Europe, and Japan. It continues to try, in Somalia and elsewhere. Of course, it's better to teach and aid the people, rather than just "shoveling money"- into leader's Swiss bank accounts!
Different societies have found their own answers to these "selfish behaviors." In "Napoleonic Law," citizens are required to come to the aid of others, (such as accident victims) under penalty! In America, charity and even heroism are common enough without such laws. Actually there are "Good Samaritan" laws that protect such heroes from potential lawsuits! But that's another story, and further selfishness.
Throughout history there has been speculation about selfishness and sacrifice. Some philosophy teachers deny the existence of "altruism" entirely! Or at least, confuse the student and induce a deep-seated cynicism. (Author's note: I had such a teacher in High School; a friend found this at Harvard.)
Biologists chip in with their "theories of evolution." Darwin, and his modern advocates Richard Dawkins and James Wilson attempt to reduce everything to the "physical plane." Darwin spoke of the "survival of the fittest"- a truly merciless force slicing its way through the living world. Dawkins introduces the "selfish gene," and applies "game theory" math, to explain that ALL organisms are motivated solely to preserve themselves and their posterity. Anything else being cultural 'window dressing'. Wilson claims that even religions are ultimately selfish, "conferring survival advantages" upon their practitioners.
Anthropologists search for "primitive roots," comparing today's busy life with the situation on the savannas of Africa, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Dominance, mating, sharing and playing are all reduced to their primitive origins.
Psychologists reduce everything to individual brains, and tangled minds. Joseph Campbell uses Freud's and Jung's theories to fill human dreams and history with "mythic heroes." Some reduce all to a "search for sex," or "for our lost mother." Others are more negative, finding all rooted in the "fear of death"- obviously this would include religious convictions.
Some of these scholars miss the lack of morals -even of ethics- in such lines of thought. Unfortunately most of them are off on the wrong track, often building edifices of very impressive sounding "psychobabble."
As a matter of fact, the scholars just cited are correct. People DO physically spring from primitive life, and "dog eat dog survival" prevailed. Otherwise, no one would be here to read this! Humans did live, due to the Fall of Man, as primitives for many thousands of years. Acting like beasts, then -and sometimes- now. The psyches of "fallen people" are dark and fantastically tangled. Without True Love; seeking sex, or comfort- from people who turn out to be just as troubled " Fallen, selfish people have good reason to fear death. And people do have "mythic heroes." Because "God's Providence" must, and does raise them up! And they must be followed to victory. The spiritual world sends those "dreams of ideals"- not the other way around. People DO honor, and try to build "morals." Even Dawkins admits this, almost without realizing it. (Because we've lacked them and we know it. Our God-given "original mind" doesn't let us forget it!) C.S. Lewis points this out, brilliantly, in "Mere Christianity." Even lacking so much, humanity has come very far- but only with God's help. Nothing less could overcome man's selfishness and wrong desires.
The Divine Principle explains about "self purpose and whole purpose." Possession and capability, offering and serving. It explains that people have BOTH "physical" and "spiritual" selves- and natures. Also, it describes, in simple outline, an "ideal society." There is a function for "equal distribution of goods." This is NOT the government-forced "equality of misery" of the humanists. Rather it is a dynamic and natural function. Bringing prosperity, for as John F. Kennedy stated, "a rising tide lifts all boats."
By overcoming the Fall, and restoring proper order to lives and families -and leaders- the Principle and the True Parents can cut through this "Gordian Knot" of selfish behavior. And bring about a world of "true life, true love, and true ideal"; with everyone "living for others, before God."
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