Human beings are selfish.
Many years ago I would not only have supported that belief, I would have also suggested that it is our natural state of being.
There were just too many examples of corruption in the world, combined with my own personal experiences of times when I had felt used or betrayed by other people’s greed.
Sure, there were the Gandhis and Mother Teresas of the world, but their stories always seemed few and far between.
Then the Internet came along, and with it, an abundance of examples started to appear where people were sharing in unprecedented ways.
Today, we not only have large entities such as Wikipedia, where people contribute information for free, but we are also witnessing the sharing of ideas and solutions to our everyday problems on a multitude of websites, without any expectation of compensation or credit.
Pick a problem you might be having in your life today and Google it.
Sure enough, you will not only find chatrooms and forums of people sharing their ideas, but many times you will actually find someone who has taken the time from their own busy schedule to create a detailed video, showing you the step-by-step solution of which you are seeking.
So the question arises, are we naturally that selfish or had we collectively created an unnatural environment in the past that supported our need to be that way?
The web would suggest that when we are given the freedom and opportunity to share with each other, we not only engage in that process, we thrive in it. We instinctively want to help others and contribute to their well-being as well as our own.
However, we have been traditionally conditioned not to do so, and, as a result, we have created a belief that we are, at our core, quite selfish.
Evidence for both perspectives can be found each day. Yes, we still have greed and corruption, but there are now just as many examples of genuine sharing and selflessness as well.
I guess beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder.
Many times we can get trapped in viewing our world as either the way it is or how things have always been. But rather than look at which view is right or wrong, wouldn’t it better serve us to look at which way we would ultimately like it to be?
If we could have it either way, which one would we want to experience?
Given the growing population in our world and the limited resources we have in it, if our natural way of being doesn’t include sharing, we had better learn to do so, and very quickly.
The math will not support a world of “mine” for very much longer.
For our collective growth and survival, each of us must take a look inside ourselves and rediscover that place of love and kindness, where we instinctively want to share with others, despite our past conditioning for individuality and greed.
If we learned it, we can unlearn it and in doing so, we will collectively create the kind of world that we all long for.
What are your thoughts? (comments below)