Why are people selfish?

Are humans so selfish?

  1.  It’s a well-known fact that human beings are social animals. Human being cannot exist alone. In every second of life, one human being needs the support of another human being to survive.

It could be the occasion of a baptism or a marriage ceremony, club party or funeral ceremony, in every beautiful and tragic moment of life, human beings need somebody to share their feelings and expressions. In fact not only human beings, but every creature in this world, cannot exist alone. In spite of all of this, every human being is selfish and self-oriented. Every human being always wants self-progress and development. No one wants others to be happy and prosperous, but why?

When a person grows up, they say, “I came alone into this world and I will go out alone.” But they forget that there was somebody who brought them to come into this world. As soon as a baby is born, he/she starts to cry. The baby does not cry for others, he cries for himself so that he can get milk to drink and survive. So, humans appear selfish by birth. But is this behavior natural or is it rather a habit that they develop when they come into this world?

This totally confuses me! Do we develop this at birth or do we acquire it later? Does the social environment teach human beings to be selfish? Can any human being be free of this natural disease of humans – “selfishness” or not? How would human beings be if they were not selfish? How would the world be with the people who were not selfish? Would that world look the same as our world today or would it be different? Would that world be as developed as today’s world or more developed? These are burning questions for me!

It is a well-known fact that humans are the most intelligent beings in this world. Human beings have progressed greatly in different aspects of development. Humans have made this world very narrow and almost artificial. But the only thing that humans are not able to do, from my point of view, is to free themselves from the natural human disease of “selfishness”.

Can we be human and not selfish? Humans have never been free of selfishness, but why is this? Why do human beings always only refer to “I” and “my”? Are corruption and discrimination the ultimate result of this selfishness? Humans always think first about themselves and only afterwards about others. Regardless of the situation, humans first think about what benefit or advantage they can gain and only think about others afterwards.

Why is this? Is this the fault of God or of us as humans? Who is to blame for this selfishness? Is it a good or a bad thing to be selfish? Humans consider themselves to be the most superior beings on the planet. We have naturally learned to think only about ourselves, but why? People talk a lot about helping others but they don’t unless they see that they too can benefit from doing so. Why?

What is responsible for making people so selfish? Is it the role of the heart or the mind that lies within the human body? It is said that those who listen to their mind are selfish while those who think from their heart are kind. Is this true or just a saying? If so, what might be the number of people in this world who think via their heart? Are people who listen to their heart really helpful? How many people might be roaming this world who are helpful?

In some cases people think about others but while doing so, they look for an advantage for themselves. Is this selfishness related to Charles Darwin’s theory of “struggle for existence”? Are people selfish merely in order to survive or are there other reasons?

It is said that the finest thing and the most holy and noble deed in this world is to help others. Every religion says that serving others is the only true religion that exists in this world.

But, being the most intelligent being in the world, why can every human being not serve others rather than just himself/herself? Is this selfishness the reason for the existence of superiority and inferiority in this world? Is it because we are selfish that we want to be very rich? Is selfishness the reason for all the corruption, criminal activities and murders in this world? Is selfishness the reason why people are unhappy in this world? Is selfishness the reason behind many great world wars? Can a human brain control how selfish humans are? If yes, why has this not happened until now?

I think the reason why people are selfish is due to the greedy nature of people. Or, it may be that selfishness makes people greedy.

Once again, all these questions lead to me being confused but ultimately I would like to see a world filled with people with holy hearts and minds.

I think that if a person starts to think about others in a positive manner, many things in this world can be changed and improved. In order to achieve this, people have to think at the highest level rather than merely thinking about themselves as an individual and considering the benefits and advantages that they may gain from their conduct.

It is a well-known fact that we cannot take anything from this world with us when we die. People even leave their own bodies in this world after their death. If we say that there is nobody who thinks about the welfare of others, this will also be an injustice to some great personalities who sacrificed their lives for others.

I think that humans, being one of the most superior and intelligent beings in this world, must be free from every kind of selfishness. We should come out of the world of selfishness and try to live for others. Humans must listen to their hearts and their minds – I would like to live in a world where everyone is equal and happy and where everyone has equal access to all rights and freedoms. Humans have the power and potential to help all helpless creatures in this world and to make this world a happy and peaceful place.

2.  Humans have both selfish and altruistic drives. We’re probably selfish because people who just happen to be selfish (e.g. via a mutation) often outcompete more giving people for resources. They wind up living longer and having more children. So their selfishness gets passed on to the next generation.

Selfishness was probably more of an asset in our past than it is, now, when resources were more scarce*, but Natural Selection works slowly, and we’re the product of the selfish ones, so we have inherited their selfishness.

We’re probably altruistic because we evolved to be tribal pack animals. Hunter-gatherers have to cooperate in order to survive, and anyone who is too selfish is a threat to the group. An extremely selfish person will get ostracized (or worse) by the tribe. As a result, he’ll have few or no children, so his extreme selfishness won’t get passed on to future generations.

Both extreme selflessness and extreme selfishness tend to be liabilities, so (with some exceptions) they don’t exist in our species. (We think of the rare exceptions as pathological.) Most humans wind up with a collection of selfish and altruistic drives that duke it out inside them, each winning on this occasion or that.

Note: human altruism evolved in kin-bases tribes. People tend to get less and less altruistic, the more they relate to others outside their immediate circle of family and friends. Which is why world peace is very, very difficult. When humans are able to extend their selflessness beyond their social group, it’s usually by rallying around some sort of transcendent idea: a god, a country, a sport or art form they’re fans of, a common enemy, or a set of guiding principles.

* When modern people do have to compete for resources, we see selfishness increase. People start “looking out for number one.” Unless someone can convince them to rally around some sort of savior figure. This often helps dictators get into power. (As always, there are exceptions. There are people on the edge of starvation who still spend an extraordinary amount of energy helping total strangers. We admire such people and recognize that they’re exceptional.)

People with more resources tend to be more altruistic, but there are limits to their altruism, because they got their resources through some sort of privilege. Unless they’re exceptional empathy, they have to go into denial about where their privilege comes from—and who it causes to suffer—at least part of the time.

The fact that many of these folks still give to charities and volunteer their time shows that they’re not entirely selfish. They are still pulled towards (and simultaneously away from) altruism.

Even if we put the worst possible spin on their behavior, and say they’re only giving time and money because it make them look good, there’s a reason it makes them look good. It’s because their culture (at least in some ways) favors altruistic behavior.

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