A secular take on selfishness …

A friend of mine pointed out that even those in media find selfishness offensive. In this “cleaned up” version of Dennis Miller’s Rant, find hope that even those who often epitomize selfishness can themselves identify this human malady. My friend considers Miller a prophe of sorts.

Dated 6/07/02

Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but after a brief period of post-9/11 altruism, selfhisness is back. Intelligence agencies don’t share information with each other. C.E.O’s tell you to buy the stock they’re frantically unloading. Everywhere you look, cooperation is as rare as a tube top in Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe.

Selfishness is a topic that must be taken seriously if mankind is to cast off the animalistic legacy of his evolutionary past, and progress to a world in which our better angels are freed to share their glowing light with a peaceful world. And if not, I want to talk about it anyway, so …

Sure, we pay lip service to cooperation and altruism, but in the real world, those values are ignored like crunchy peanut butter at a nursing home.

It’s sad to say, but history has not given us many examples of genuinely selfless people. By my count, there’s Abraham, Jesus, Ghandi, Mohammed, Buddha, and Mother Teresa. Okay, that’s not true. Ghandi was kind of … in his teens. And even the Buddha looks like he didn’t have trouble calling dibs on pie.

And to those other humbler-than-thou religious types, give me a break. You’re not any less selfish than the rest of us – you’ve just deferred your selfishness to the next life. The only reason you don’t bother with earthly treasures is you’re too busy making reservations to sit in your heavenly skybox seats and watch the rest of us get slow-roasted on the George Foreman Grill of the Beastmaster.

The problem with being selfish is that it breeds hostility in others. But not often enough. Too many people are getting away with behavior they should be called on. Here’s a perfect example. It’s a minor thing, but it makes my point. I was at the CBS commissary buying soup the other day and the guy in front of make takes the ladle, strains all the liquid out, and puts the chicken and noodles in his bowl. Then he does it again two more times so that by the time I get to the soup, there’s nothing left but liquid. You …! It says soup, not stew. Who died and left you alive, you narcissist. Oh I see, you get a wet entree and the rest of us get broth? I hope you gag on your ill-gotten hoard of chunks …! Like I said, it’s a minor thing.

It’s hard for me to decide who is more narrow minded in pursuit of their own interest — men or women…

The United States is often criticized for being selfishly isolationist until we want something, like oil or access to freedom-stealing murderous thugs. Okay, so when we needed to get into Afghanistan, we dropped some crates of food on the starving Afghanis. That’s not selfish, it’s smart. When the fire started flying, who were the Afghanis going to side with, the guys who slit their carotid arteries for fast dancing or the guys who made it rain Nutrigrain bars and Sunny Delight?

For me the pinnacle of selfishness is the driver who takes up two prime parking spaces in a crowded parking lot just so they won’t get a little door ding. That’s precisely why despite the terrible mileage and poor handling, I drive a Caterpillar D6 fron-end loader. It’s worth it to see the look on the seflish person’s face when he comes out to find his highly Simonized Mini Cooper neatly balanced on the awning of the Pottery Barn.

I admit I could not be more interested in myself if I were the illegitimate son of Narcissus and Madonna looking at a disco ball through the eyes of a fly.

But even I realize we have to get over our indifference and acknowledge that we share this planet with others. So don’t hoard that P’Zone … Don’t be the nuissance on the cell phone in the movie theater. Don’t be the Lorenzo-Lamas “Renegade” wannabe who rides through the neighborhood in the middle of the night on a Harley so loud, it sounds like Gene Krupa returing enemy fire. And for heaven’s sake, don’t take your shoes off in a crowded airplane when you feet smell horendous. You’re not the only person on this planet. I am.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.