Friday, May 27, 2011

Enlightened selfishness: in it for ourselves, whatever that means

Self portrait, in a way.

We're in it for ourselves. This state of being in it for ourselves gets fuzzy when we try to nail down just who "ourselves" is. (Spoiler alert: the system is interconnected, everything is us, take care of it.)
Would you screw over your family for personal gain? Of course not. Taking care of family is as automatic as taking care of ourselves.
Would you help out a friend in a jam? Maybe they need a ride, or help moving a big couch down a tiny flight of stairs. Of course you would. Even at the cost of some personal money or time. We watch out for our friends.
Would you help out a bunch of strangers in your province if their city burned down? Donations and outpourings of support for those displaced by the Slave Lake fire would suggest that "ourselves" includes a lot of people we don't even know. Total strangers can count on our support when they need it.
Being in it for ourselves extends to people in other countries. Haiti received lots of support after its devastating earthquake.
A sharper question in this province is whether Albertans should set aside their allegiances to the Oilers or the Flames and root for the Vancouver Canucks: a Canadian team, but a rival to the hometown face. Is our sense of ourselves tied to our local franchise or the national one with a shot at the cup?
When there's a pinch somewhere, we'll help out, even if it means cheering for someone else's hockey team. We're in it for ourselves, and pretty much anyone in temporary pain can get a hand up.
We're in it for ourselves in wanting things like clean air, clean water, and a reliable food supply. Selfish? Yeah, and that's ok. To get that, taking care of the plants, animals, ecosystems and atmosphere makes all sorts of self-interested sense.
Being in it for ourselves isn't that far from being in it for everything. Fixing our spaceship is good for everybody on it.
(Vancouver in six, as long as the funky bounces keep helping out in double overtime.)

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