Monday, April 15, 2013

Egocentric Selflessness

I want to leave a better world. The reason you should do things for other people is selfish. There’s no difference between selfish and selfless if you understand how the world works. We’re all tied together. We live in an interdependent world.
~Bill Clinton, on the Colbert Report,  4/8/2013 

It's funny how this new age sounding nonsense turns out to make a whole lot of sense, after all.  In Buddhism, the term is Pratītyasamutpāda.  Not simply that all things are interconnected, but that there is a causality to everything, and that causality is an ever-flowing process of interdependence.

Cooperation is about becoming more than the sum of your parts.  A society that grows more effective than the sum of its individuals working alone.  From science, to war, and even to commerce - contrary to the sort of communist ideology it might seem to resemble, it makes for much better capitalism, as well.  It's a concept that can be applied to all different sorts of government and social structures.

It isn't about forcing people to work together, so much as helping more people do exactly what humanity's been doing naturally, for thousands of years.  It's more about cultivating a society which is ever more conducive to that.  Getting as many people into positions where they can be a part of that, as possible.  I think it's pretty clearly in our nature to be that way.  If you look at statistics on people who don't contribute,  it's decidedly slanted towards people who are impeded from contributing.

Like myself, of course.  All that potential I supposedly had, but just too many roadblocks growing up in a culture that overwhelmingly didn't give a damn.  I'm inclined to leave that out, pretend I'm being totally objective, but of course not.  We share what we can, what our own experiences have taught us.  Bias doesn't make a person wrong.  It makes us who we are.  I think it is potentially the most valuable thing any of us really has to offer.

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