The Inherent Selfishness of Humans
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The Inherent Selfishness of Humans

As humans, our first and foremost priority is ourselves -- but is this necessarily a terrible thing?

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The Inherent Selfishness of Humans

If you were omnipotent for five minutes, what would you do?

Would you end poverty, world hunger, disease, war and terrorism, climate change?

Or would you give yourself all the luxuries you've ever dreamt of? A mansion, expensive cars, designer clothes and accessories?

Or would you try to create the intangible? Love, confidence, happiness?

We would all like to believe that we would choose the first. However, I think that in the moment, when faced with a choice, unbelievable power, and a ticking clock, the first thoughts that would rush to many of our minds are all of our current struggles and adversities, tempting us to choose what we need most in that moment.

It is difficult to choose to solve climate change when the most pressing issues inconveniencing us on a daily basis are lack of wealth, lack of education and a job, conflicts at school or work, ill loved ones, loneliness, interpersonal disputes, low self-confidence and self-esteem, anxiety, stress. We all suffer from personal struggles, which are unique to everyone and equally valid. Everyone has hidden demons, debilitating and haunting in some way. Even if there is world peace, we may not be happy in our day-to-day lives. Can anyone be shamed for choosing to help themselves?

All humans follow a hierarchy of needs. The highest on the hierarchy that everyone ultimately aims to achieve is self-actualization -- achieving one's fullest potential, including the ability to creatively solve problems. Below that are the most basic needs, in order: physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem. A need cannot be addressed until the one below it is fulfilled. Some of the most unfortunate people unfortunately struggle with physiological and safety needs for a long time. Most other people, even if they have these fulfilled, are continuously seeking to achieve their needs in the love/belonging and esteem levels throughout the majority of their adolescent, young adult, and even adult lives. Until we have all of these needs satisfied, we are unable to self-actualize and realize our ability to think beyond our own person for the good of society. Given unbounded power, most probably alleviating a larger global adversity would simply not even cross our minds.

It is not selfish to use unlimited power to benefit ourselves, given the opportunity. Only those who are the most secure in every other aspect of their lives will have the strength to address the larger issues facing our world. Choosing to focus on self-care first will open many more doors for success in the future. So, in a way, isn't using omnipotency to help ourselves also creating opportunity to one day better humanity as well?

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