The Virtue of Self-ishness

August 07, 2012 By: Michael Nagel Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit

Was it 1984 when I walked up to a teller of the Santa Monica branch of First Interstate Bank to deposit my paycheck? I must have laid on the teller counter, title up, the copy of “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand which I was reading, because as I filled out my deposit slip, the teller remarked with palpable moral indignation, “Don’t tell me you want to be selfish!?”

Slowly looking up straight into her eyes, I replied, “As a matter of fact, I do!”

I still want to be Self-ish, though sometimes others may misinterpret that as my being selfish. But that is their problem, not mine. I wish that you be Self-ish too.

That is, I wish everyone be taught how to think critically with the light of their intellects. As individuals and a nation, we might not fall victim to deceit.

I wish everyone finds within themselves, not others, the moral authority to value, think, feel, and act as they choose, rather than conform to the opinions and dictates of others.

“That will lead to moral anarchy,” some might rebut. True, were human nature not beneficent and itself the very source of intuited morality. Yes, life experience distorts some of us. Yet generally the heart of humanity is sound. After all, when was the last time you met someone who would rather kick a lost puppy than pet, hold, or help it?

I wish that we find the ease and strength of being self-directed, rather than find the comfort of being directed by others. It would be more difficult to herd us as sheep towards fascism.

Critical thinking, being one’s own locus of valuation, and being autonomous I wish were life skills taught to every senior before graduating from high school.

I wish too that we enjoy the deeper experience of Self by dis-identifying from the drama and content of our experience, and resting in the one awareness which underlies each instant, each life-form, and which peers out now through your eyes and mine.

 

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