4.28.2009

The Selfish Giver

Is life worth fighting for? Absolutely.

It is days like these, when my son gives my daughter a beautiful Tulip to make up for the dandelion of hers that he stepped on, that make me proud to be a father. Although I wanted to get mad at him for picking one of our flowers without asking, his head was in the right place, which was taking responsibility for his actions (stepping on her flower) and trying to make amends (giving her a new, prettier flower). It is so exciting to see him utilize proper values and virtues for living a full, happy life.

Perhaps the greatest confusion people have with the Objectivist's ethics is their failure to understand how selfishness can lead to positive personal relationships. For me, this picture captures the concept of selfishness perfectly. My son wants to play with my daughter and does not want her sad because she will stop playing with him when he does make her sad. So it was perfectly selfish of him to want her to stay happy, hence the flower. Whenever people think of selfishness, think of this picture.

But why stop there. Its not just my kids that I want to life full, happy lives. I want to live in a world where everyone treats others as my son (selfishly) does here. As a parent, I want my children to live in a world where other people take responsibility for their own screw-ups (instead of asking for others to bail them out). It is in my own self-interest that everyone take responsibility. That everyone acts with the same selfishness that my son does in this picture.

I am willing to fight for a future where these values are taken seriously.
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9 comments:

  1. What a lovely story! Cute picture, too.

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  2. With the state of affairs in our current world- it is wonderful to see values that all can share, being taught and seen in our children.

    I want my family to live in the same world as well.

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  3. Jenn - Thanks.

    Mike - I'm glad you see it. To few people do.

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  4. Great post and very true. Most people I know don't understand the real meaning of selfishness and how to integrate a concern for others into it.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this post! It's really cool to read about children acting selfishly. This story really touched my heart, thanks for sharing it.

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  6. The picture is a wonderful concrete example of the principle of rational self-interest. And what a good story, pinned to ideas, goes with it. May I link?

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  7. Mike - That's one of the reasons why I had to tell the story with the picture. They weren't just being cute. They were being selfish in all the best ways.

    Principled Parent - I'm glad you appreciated it. My kids can be so sweet to each other most days (and then there are the other days...)

    Elisheva - Thank you. You are always welcome to link to any story of mine.

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  8. Beautiful. Thank you for posting that.

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