SELFISHNESS AS A VIRTUE
I wrote a blog post a while back (July 22) about a woman who had relied heavily upon the support of her husband and came to regret it. A reader responded that the woman had lived a selfish life. The flaw is common. I can hardly think of a work in literature that doesn’t expose some form of selfishness whether it be Harry Potter’s Voldemort who wants to control the world or Rabbit, in “Winnie the Pooh,” who doesn’t want to share his honey.
If Freud is to be believed, selfishness or self love is necessary to survive. So, like almost anything I can think of in life, nothing is ever all good or all bad.
I have a friend who always alerts me when he has a letter printed in our local newspaper. He gets a kick out of seeing his words in print and I can only be happy for him. The other day, I received one of his alerts. This time his message was about a murderer who wanted to be executed and a legal defense system that was filing appeals regardless of his wishes. My friend wrote a single sentence:
“If we Oregonians are so determined not to kill someone sentenced to death in the justice system, why not just do the right thing and abolish the death penalty?”
I replied with enthusiasm, cheering him on, not only for the sentiment but that he took the time to express it. To my surprise he wrote:
“A funny thought occurred to me. I get a one-sentence letter published and have to brag about it, while YOU are publishing book after book!!!”
I was sorry that he felt the need to apologize for being excited to see his words in print. I know the feeling. And the ironic truth was, he probably got more readers with that single sentence in the newspaper than I have garnered with my novels. I didn’t think his joy was selfish. I thought it was endearing.