It’s funny, you know. Of all my passions that Hybrid Rasta Mama could have taken interest in, it is the one topic that I know I have some things to share, yet a topic that I still feel somewhat timid about. However, in my experience, when we are called to do great and meaningful things, it is often when we are in a state of vulnerability. I think that this combination makes for a moldable and usable instrument of God, so that we may reach others without too much ego in the mix. So with that said, I openly accept this opportunity not only with appreciation and excitement, but a great sense of duty. It is my desire to offer the seekers out there exactly what they seek- wisdom, knowledge, truth, greater and more objective perception, and a spirit of love for all of the rest of humanity.
In my younger school age years, one thing that I remember learning about humans is that we are selfish. All living organisms ultimately are. In fact, to a large degree, it is this selfishness that has allowed us to evolve, adapt, survive, and flourish. Laissez-faire economics thrives on the predictable selfish nature of both the producer and consumer to reach the equilibrium necessary for a successful market. Basic biology tells us that if we don’t live and reproduce, we die out with no remnant. And so, we do the necessary things to reproduce. For humans and other social creatures, this obviously gets pretty complicated- scoring a mate, making babies, and successfully raising them, that is. How is one able to get to the point of reaching outside of themselves and performing more altruistic behaviors? Well, our basic needs have to be met. And this does indeed require a fair amount of selfishness. I think that as humans, we have a natural ability to either overlook this reality, or assume it a natural, acceptable kind of selfishness. It is when we as people have more than enough to go around for our survival and well being and still we continue to seek our own desires over others in need that we start to actively label others “selfish” in nature.
So at what point to do stop forgiving selfishness in others? What is the scale here? At what point is it universally unaccepted to be selfish? Well unfortunately there is no universal scale. These judgments would be formulated by our past experiences, social communities, upbringing, and external/internal expectations. And as I will expand on in future posts, most of us cannot even begin to fathom the vast differences that we as individuals experience in different families, different eras, different homes, different cities, different states, different countries, and different continents! Just as no one is entitled to judge you on your decisions in life, we are not entitled to judge others on theirs. Is there a point where selfishness is too much? Absolutely. But who am I to say where the line is for you? The only thing I can be responsible for is myself (and my children of course). But my point here is that ultimately we are all in the same boat.
All of us, every single human being out there, are just trying to survive. We are trying to do our best, based on our notions of what “good” actually entails. Sometimes we find ourselves failing to obtain this intangible notion, but rarely do we find ourselves failing to say whether or not someone else is. Why do you make the decisions that you do? Well really, due to the extremely complex history that is specific to you and only you, only you can say. But, I would be willing to wager that you have some very legitimate reasons.
Naturally, as humans with minds that are individual and experiential only to us, it’s sometimes hard to see the common ground in the midst of all our differences. What amazes me is that science now shows us how certain areas of the brain are specific for certain bodily functions, thought patterns, etc. And, certain variations in the brain can predictably affect very specific aspects of personality. With that in mind, remember that we are all just trying to survive- struggling with things that are most often completely out of our control. What survival means for someone in Jinja, Uganda or Jakarta, Indonesia, or a community of ancient tribes people from the Amazon might mean something very different from you for an endless amount of reasons. But you know what I do know is a common denominator? We are all trying to survive and thrive! When our needs for survival have been met, we seek advanced things that may allow us to flourish: socially, mentally, monetarily, economically, personally. And what you consider to be the “right” way has everything to do with your culture, community, upbringing, and even the mere information that you are exposed to. And you know as well as I that we don’t have a choice where we are born and brought up.
So what is the point? The idea is that that everyone, everywhere, is simply trying to do the best for themselves, in the way they best know to do. Sometimes this means that others exhibit a higher amount of selfishness than what we consider acceptable. Sometimes this means that others take actions that we see as unacceptable or poisonous. (And in my personal experience, I have witnessed people do and say some pretty hurtful things- sometimes to others, sometimes to themselves.) Sometimes people do or desire things that we don’t, so we mentally cast them into what sociology teaches us is the “out” group. In other words, “this is me, people like me are acceptable, and anyone that I see that doesn’t have the same motives as me or desires as me or things as me or looks like me, is different and/or unacceptable.” What’s ironic about that is that these internal judgments really have no effect on any single thing except ourselves (until we start preaching our judgements). But where I’m going with this is that even the people we don’t like, that are different from us are ultimately acting the same way we are within their individual human experience. In my opinion, the similarities outweigh the differences since the similarity here actually is universal.
Knowing that this tendency is truly a reality for everyone helps me to become more forgiving of other’s actions. Knowing that even the people who occasionally hurt me are simply trying to thrive in their own way, gives me the power to say, “I forgive you” when I understand that they are simply trying to do the best with what they’ve got. And some people really don’t have much to show for it when they’ve been damaged in the many ways that evil can manifest. I feel as though I have been very fortunate to grow up in a home with two parents, in a community with support, with great teachers who have imparted good wisdom, with great friends over the years who have shown me true friendship, and so on. These are just some of the most meaningful things that have helped me get to where I am in life. Sadly, others don’t get a great start in life and therefore are a little slower to grow. Sometimes we choose unhealthy relationships and sometimes we don’t receive unconditional love when we need it most. These things can be damaging to a soul. But one thing’s for certain, our human needs dictate that we predictably act in ways that we feel (whether warranted or not) will better us. Thus, no matter the person and the life that has molded them, most people will pursue the things that they understand as desirable, yes, even if it is twisted from a damaging past.
I hope that this more objective view of selfishness helps you to realize that even though you might not know why someone says or does something, at least you know that there is a reason for it. It’s like that old saying “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.” What I believe is that it is an obvious impossibility to “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes. However, knowing for sure that they have indeed walked a long way and experienced and interpreted an infinite number of different things than I have, helps me to be more gentle, forgiving, and loving towards all other human beings.
Cara Jean is very new to the blogging world but feels she has much to offer the wonderful community of mothers and women in general who wish to seek out wholesome, natural, meaningful lifestyles. She is a stay at home mother of her two young daughters who are just 11 months apart! Though she has her hands very full (of love), she is now taking on the role of a blogging mother as an outlet to reach others on several different levels. Ultimately, she seeks to appeal to those who are searching for deeper significance in life. From natural birthing, to organic parenting, to spiritual reflections, to revelations on society in general, she is attempting to embody her beliefs about the world into her blog in order to inspire others to not settle for the status quo and seek a more unique perspective. In the midst of this community of many fantastic people and gifted bloggers, she humbly hopes to attract anyone who might be interested in her lifestyle that she has found to be deeply rewarding.
You can find Cara Jean on her blog: CarasJeans.