Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Selfish Thinking is Obsolete (Part II)
Welcome to Part II of this entry, as we continue to break down the now obsolete & degenerative behavior called selfishness, aka vanity. Please don't be vain! The first step was recognizing and defining selfish thinking. Outlining the problems inherent in it is the second step. And ultimately, the move towards practical solutions, that shift the attention from fruitless pursuits, towards greater potential.
Everything we encounter in day-to-day life is set up in advance by thoughts first, and actions second. (Think of thought as the unseen seed, and action as the plant that sprouts, producing fruit.) On a basic level, we hold far more power and sway over the state of our lives than many of us realize, or care to admit. Much of this power escapes conscious awareness and proper application, because the true source of it is constantly being undermined in a social climate that directly, and indirectly, encourages selfish activity. Focusing too closely on personal desires that exclude others tends to foster a divisive mentality, placing greater distance between one's self and others. Question: how well does a finger function ten feet away from its hand?
I say all this to say: those who refuse to settle for a frivolous existence, and choose life instead, MUST act consciously. This means every action taken is performed with the mind, not without. When we follow standards & trends, and accept without question, whatever is presented to us as it is presented, suffering is as sure as sunshine. (Trends are fickle and subject to change; standards may be set high or low.)
Western society specifically, is culturally geared towards empty gratifications and selfish pursuits, and cannot be consumed wholeheartedly and indiscriminately, without the soul suffering as a result. Our daily lives are manifestations of the condition of our inner lives; and internally, we know what we often go above and beyond to try to hide on the outside - simple things like: you and I are one. (U-N-I; UNIty; UNIverse; UNI = ONE)
As one saying goes, we need to check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves. An intelligent person can see the difference in personal interests that are productive and beneficial, versus those that are harmful and encourage selfish thinking. Selfish actions often underscore a lack of understanding, and a distorted sense of self-worth. As a result, the selfish behaviors often manifest as unconscious, and unchecked, emotional reactions. Rather than highlight specific examples, just ask yourself honestly: “why am I doing what I'm doing, and how is it helping”? And, as a reason, “it makes me feel good” isn't good enough – not when that feeling leads right back into the feeling it was supposed to have soothed in the first place!
Many have been taught to excuse such behaviors on the grounds that “if it's not hurting anyone, it's ok”; “it's none of their business”; “this is a free country”. 1) Actions that compromise a person hurt them first; 2) if it affects them, it is to some extent their “business” - and if you are a responsible business owner, you will hold your “business” accountable; 3) How can someone be free, who doesn't even take the time to stop and decide what kind of life they wish to live? (What most of us consider “freedom” - in the USA at least – is merely psychological self-separation)
It can't be stressed enough, how much what we each say, think, and do, affects everyone and everything. Example: A brutha recently explained to me how he was “done” with sistas, and only going for caucasian women. He said he was tired of the “bs”, and that caucasian women were friendlier, and easier to deal with. He went on to say color doesn't really matter to him... right after denouncing the women most closely modeling his mama, and celebrating the women least like him in appearance. On top of that, he chose as his preference the women fewest in number on the Earth! Clearly, color does factor into his thought process, as it does for many who claim “it doesn't matter”. (Everything matters!)
So what; it's his choice, right? How's it even selfish - as long as he's happy, right? Well: is it really his choice? Is he actually happy? Or, is he merely settling? Is he giving up, by choosing to become a victim, thereby taking the power out of his own hands? What he wasn't considering, was the impact his decision has on others, or its implications into his image of self.
See, selfish activities often deny the intimate roles we play in causing the effects we perceive to be life's events. In this instance, he has placed all the dysfunction and drama on sistas, and implies by doing so, that he had no part in why his relationships with women have failed. We have to be willing to take hard, honest looks at ourselves, and stop blaming others for our conditions – IF we wish to bring about a change for the greater.
Also, there's always the community at large to consider. What message does it send to boys and young men, when they see bruthas in relationships with caucasian women primarily, or exclusively? For all the folks who complain about the current state of our families, yet practice this same tendency: do you see the connection? It's hard to raise and maintain strong, confident, committed families, when each member goes off to “do their own thing”, placing their primary trust and faith in the people outside the home.
Look for habits in your day-to-day that are self-gratifying and nothing more; make a game of it. When you spot them, eliminate anything you feel able to. What takes place instead during the extra time you have? How do you feel? Are you more closed off, or more capable? Do you have less energy, or more? Are you getting less done, or more? What were your thoughts like then; what are they like now?
If one studies society carefully, it seems most selfish behaviors are learned, not natural. The natural world as a whole, is clearly not selfish; every member plays its part and doesn't deviate. With [wo]mankind, consciousness comes into play, and that changes EVERYTHING. We must realize now, that we alone determine the kind of life we'll live; that choice is a gift! And it is a choice; those who wish to reap the benefits of a good harvest must be willing to get on the ground and put the work in. May we continue to grow into this gift; with wisdom, grace, and, when called upon, a willingness to change.